Donizetti Opera Festival ends with success
The 8th edition of the Donizetti Opera Festival, in Bergamo, organized by the Donizetti Theatre Foundation chaired by Giorgio Berta, with general director Massimo Boffelli, artistic director Francesco Micheli and musical director Riccardo Frizza, comes to an end with enthusiastic results: a new record in attendance, a considerable return of foreign audiences and a high number of accredited journalists.
Attendance is growing and reached 12,484 people in 2022, more than the successful number of 2021 (10,392) and the previous ones of 2019 (10,293) and 2018 (8,491), thus confirming the appeal of the festival and the quality of its artistic proposal.
Foreign audience members have returned in a considerable way, accounting for 31% of admissions out of an analyzed sample of 700 people purchasing online and 80% of all organized groups. More and more countries of origin – this year 26 – many of which are connected by the routes operating on the Milan Bergamo airport managed by SACBO: United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, France, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Romania, Portugal, Bulgaria, Latvia, Ireland, Netherlands, Hungary, Australia, United States, Japan, Taiwan, China, Russia, Canada.
The programme was also appreciated by a large group of Italian and foreign music critics (97) accredited for 87 newspapers (38 of which foreign) including print, web, radio and TV, also from Australia, the United States, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France (the highest number), Spain, Belgium, Poland, Austria and Switzerland, who talked about the festival, also dedicating space to how the city of Bergamo was involved and to its close connection with Donizetti.
This year organizers carried on the important work undertaken in previous years with groups, associations and institutions in the area, especially those of young people who have attended Donizetti Opera performances: among them the students of the Erasmus project (involved through the ESN association of the University of Bergamo), the students of the University of Milan Bicocca, the students of the Bergamo Guardia di Finanza Academy, and the young people of the Rotaract District 2042 Lombardy North. This is a way to involve the Under-30s more and more alongside our regular audience and to increase their passion for opera.
Digital communication (website and social media) also recorded a significant increase, taking into account the months of October and November alone:
- the gaetanodonizetti.org website was visited by 55,929 unique users;
- festival content on Facebook and Instagram reached 3,712,479 users;
- On-page content achieved 37,762 interactions;
- More than 16,500 views for the “Citofonare Gaetano” format between YouTube and the social media channels of the Festival, of L’Eco di Bergamo, of Bergamo News and of the presenter Diego Passoni.
DONIZETTI OPERA 2022
The 2022 programme of the festival – winner of the “Oper! Award” as the best European festival for German critics and just nominated for the fourth time for the International Opera Award as best festival – included three operatic titles by Donizetti and a series of side events and activities: at the Donizetti Theatre we staged La favorite (18 and 27 November, 3 December) conducted by Riccardo Frizza and directed by Valentina Carrasco for an important co-production with the Opéra de Bordeaux, and L’aio nell’imbarazzo (20 and 26 November, 2 December) with Vincenzo Milletarì on the podium and directed by Francesco Micheli. The Teatro Sociale hosted the rediscovery of Chiara e Serafina (19 and 25 November, 4 December), an opera for the #donizetti200 project conducted by Sesto Quatrini and directed by Gianluca Falaschi in collaboration with the Accademia Teatro alla Scala. The involvement of thirty non-professional women from Bergamo (the ‘favourites’ in the opera directed by Valentina Carrasco) selected in the CTE-Centri per Tutte le Età of Bergamo in collaboration with the Bergamo Social Policies Department was very important for both the city and the festival. Then we celebrated the Dies Natalis, between the tribute of the students of Liceo Sarpi and those of the Conservatory in the musical elevation in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the new electronic music creations presented at Spazio Polaresco. The third and last weekend will end on Sunday 4 December with Donizetti Christmas Day, a marathon of music and events between the Donizetti Theatre and the Piacentiniano Centre.
As part of Donizetti Education, a project for schools, the three previews of the operas were the access shows for the Opera WOW project, dedicated to teenagers and their emotional complexities. For primary and secondary schools we staged at the Teatro Sociale (30 November, 1 and 2 December, at 9.30 and 11.30), Chiara o Serafina? Ovvero come Gaetano Donizetti e Felice Romani scrissero, in poco tempo e con non pochi bisticci, un’opera piratesca dai mille finali, i.e. an original, participatory opera, abridged and adapted for schools, based on Donizetti’s Chiara e Serafina, which highlights the themes of the original opera that young audiences can most relate to: the issue of family, of the relationship between a father and two sisters that wins over everything else, the theme of justice with bad characters and good characters confronting one another, the theme of mistakes and change that is always possible. The new DO Opera Family programme also had great success, with three shows for children and families on the Saturday afternoons of the festival: Gaetano, Gioppino e l’Elisir d’amore (Donizetti Theatre, ridotto Gavazzeni, 19 November); Il giovane Gaetano (Donizetti Theatre, ridotto Gavazzeni, 26 November) and finally a special performance of Chiara o Serafina? (Teatro Sociale, 3 December) preceded by a workshop to prepare songs and objects to be used during the show.
DONIZETTI OPERA 2023
These are the titles of the 2023 festival, which will be held from 16 November to 3 December: LU OpeRave, Il diluvio universale, Alfredo il Grande, Lucie de Lammermoor and Il piccolo compositore di musica.
The three weekends will therefore open (16, 23 and 30 November) with the new LU OpeRave creation (initially planned for 2022) in which Donizetti’s music meets electronics and new trends. The title recalls Donizetti’s most famous opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, from which the authors of this new experimental project drew inspiration. The show will take place in an unconventional city location, with space for conviviality and the audience as an integral part of the performance. LU OpeRave stems from Mixopera vol. 1 and vol. 2, the electronic music EPs inspired by Donizetti’s music with the participation of a number of musicians gathered around the Fluidostudio label and released at the end of 2021 and in the weeks of November 2022 on all streaming platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, YouTube Music). Among the artists involved in this creation are some of the performers featured on the EPs such as Protopapa, ilromantico, H.E.R. The libretto is by Maniaci d’amore. As director and choreographer, Mattia Agatiello, who brings his Fattoria Vittadini to the stage.The first operatic title at the Donizetti Theatre on 17 and 25 November and 3 December, will be Il diluvio universale (Naples, 1830) a tragic-sacred opera scheduled following the new critical edition by Edoardo Cavalli for the Donizetti Theatre Foundation. The performance will be conducted by Riccardo Frizza and directed by Masbedo, an artistic duo formed by Nicolò Massazza and Iacopo Bedogni, known for the creative quality of their multidisciplinary productions intertwining theatre, art, video, and cinema. This new production, in collaboration with GAMEC in Bergamo, is linked to the initiatives of the “Bergamo Brescia Cultural Capitals” programme because the subject matter allows for reflection on the climatic changes of our time. A crucial work form Donizetti’s Neapolitan period, the opera belongs to the so-called ‘quaresimale’ sub-genre, to which belongs, for example, Mosè in Egitto, written by Rossini a decade earlier: biblical topics, suitable for the Lent period, but made less severe by adding some profane plot elements. Compared to Rossini, Donizetti focuses less on the choral dimension, preferring the stories of Individuals to those of Peoples.
For the #donizetti200 cycle, with which the festival stages a Donizetti title that turns two centuries old, we will have the heroic opera Alfredo il Grande (Naples, 1823) at the Donizetti Theatre on 19 and 24 November, with a new edition based on the opera’s sources, edited again by Edoardo Cavalli. This work belongs to that group of operas in which Donizetti experimented and refined his compositional means, measuring them against various operatic genres. Alfredo follows the staging of Chiara e Serafina less than a year later but has a historical subject (from Chiara e Serafina, however, a section from the Finale I will migrate to Alfredo il Grande). The libretto is by Andrea Leone Tottola, who had already been Rossini’s ‘theatrical poet’ (also for Mosé in Egitto). Alfredo il Grande will be presented in semi-scenic form, with Stefano Simone Pintor as director; the conductor will be Corrado Rovaris from Bergamo, a recurring musician in the festival programme.
The third title, at the Teatro Sociale on 18 and 26 November and then on 1 December, will be Lucie de Lammermoor, which premiered at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris in 1839 and was received with such acclaim that Donizetti was commissioned to write two new operas for that theatre, the first of which was to be L’Ange de Nisida. For the French translation of Lucia di Lammermoor – which by then was already famous in Paris – Donizetti modified the pre-existing score by making some changes to the recitatives, cutting out the secondary character of Alisa, eliminating Raimondo’s aria “Ah! Cedi, cedi, o più sciagure” in act II as well as his sections in Enrico’s cavatina “Cruda, funesta smania” in act I, and postponing a scene. He also replaced Lucia’s cavatina, “Regnava nel silenzio”, with “Que n’avons nous des ailes”, a translation of “Perché non ho del vento”, from his Rosmonda d’Inghilterra (1834). Lucie’s libretto was entrusted to Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz, who deviated from a literal translation of Cammarano’s Italian text only in a few passages, presumably with the intention of making it more suitable for the French stage. The opera will be staged by Jacopo Spirei, pupil and assistant of the late Graham Vick and today one of the most renowned Italian opera directors; on the podium the young French conductor Pierre Dumoussaud in his Italian debut, after various successes and awards at competitions and recordings.The fifth production of the festival will be Il piccolo compositore di musica, Saturday 2 December at the Donizetti Theatre. This azione teatrale in two acts by Johann Simon Mayr was staged on 13 September 1811 as the final recital of the Charitable Lessons. As with other recitals, Mayr employed the model of the 18th-century metamelodrama, in which a singing company is represented as they stage a performance and the pupils of the Charitable Lessons – including the young Gaetano – are staged as they interpret themselves in the throes of putting the final recital on stage. In Il piccolo compositore di musica, Donizetti acts as the protagonist, ironically presented as a young aspiring composer sure of his talent (the verses are famous: “Vasta ho la mente, rapido l’ingegno | pronta la fantasia, e nel comporre | un fulmine son io”). Despite the comic tone, Mayr’s promotional intent is clear, as he truly believes in the abilities of his young pupil. Donizetti is joined by four classmates from the Charitable Lessons, playing themselves: Antonio Dolci, Giuseppe Manghenoni, Giuseppe Pontiroli and Antonio Tavecchi. From the musical point of view, the opera alternates original sections (such as the Introduction) with pre-existing excerpts from works by other famous contemporary composers. Francesco Micheli will stage the production with the students of Bottega Donizetti as part of a project involving several Bergamo educational institutions. The 2022 edition has again been made possible thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture, Cariplo Foundation, Region Lombardia and the Bergamo Chamber of Commerce, of the Main partner Allianz and of Intesa Sanpaolo, as well as to the contribution of Uniacque, KPMG, Avantgarde telematics pole, Rea Dalmine, Habilita. Sponsors Curnis/Rolex, Automha. Technical sponsors Atb, Claypaky, Standgreen, Telesia, Zanta. In collaboration with Gaetano Donizetti Conservatory, Fondazione Mia, Rotary Gruppo Orobico 1 and Gruppo Orobico 2, Opera Europa, Fedora.
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