There are no new works at the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro this year, now in its 26th edition (8-22 Aug).
Bianca e Falliero inaugurates the festival (8-20 Aug) with Maria Bayo (Bianca) and Daniela Barcellona (Falliero) as the protagonists. Bayo sings rarely in Italy but was memorable in Handels Giulio Cesare in Bologna in 2003. Barcellona sings in Italy often, above all at Pesaro, where she returns each year. Both singers will have to live up to the high standards set by Katia Ricciarelli and Marilyn Horne in 1986 and Lella Cuberli and Martine Dupuy in 1988, when Bianca e Falliero was first staged at Pesaro to endless applause. This year the director is Jean-Louis Martinoty, rather than Pier Luigi Pizzi, and the conductor is Renato Palumbo.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia (10-22 Aug) is the other opera that has already been heard at the festival, but this year in a new production with Daniele Gatti conducting and Luca Ronconi as director; they have not worked together at Pesaro since the beautiful production of Armida in 1993. Among the singers is Juan Diego Flores the Rossini tenor of the moment, who has great ability and is capable of singing the range of notes with extreme ease, sending the public wild. His female partner is Joyce Di Donato, an up-and-coming mezzo-soprano in Italy who will now find herself open to the demanding judgment of the Pesaro public for the first time.
The third opera in the programme is La Gazzetta (9-21 Aug), the only production that is not new: it is the 2001 version born of the imagination and fantasy of Dario Fo, who was responsible not only for the direction but also for the scenery and costumes. This is a production without a moments let up and is full of irresistible devices such as the nuns veils made of newspaper and the car that loses its pieces. The singers are Cinzia Forte, Francesca Provvisionato and Bruno Pratico and the conductor is Antonello Allemandi.
Stabat Mater by Rossini will also be performed, conducted by Alberto Zedda, and there will be a series of voice concerts by some of the singers in the festivals operas: Joyce Di Donato (15 Aug), Bruno De Simone together with Bruno Pratico (20 Aug) and Maria Bayo (22 Aug). Paolo Di Nicola