The Sinfonica Nazionale Rai is the new main orchestra of the Rossini Opera Festival

The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale of the RAI will be the new main orchestra of the Rossini Opera Festival. The ensemble, formed in 1994, is based in Turin where it holds regular seasons of symphonic music, chamber music and contemporary music in the “Arturo Toscanini” auditorium of the RAI.  Besides touring the leading international theaters and festivals, it performs regularly in Italy, and also appears on the RAI radio and television channels, such as Rai5 and Radio3, as well as on the Euroradio and Eurovision circuits and in streaming.

The OSN Rai will be bound to the ROF by a triennial partnership that will extend from 2017 into 2019.  The Sovrintendente of the Rai Orchestra, Paola Carruba, introduces the agreement with these words: “We are particularly happy in this new collaboration with one of the most prestigious Italian and international festivals. Our involvement originally began with a few concerts to take place in 2018 and 2019.  More recently the opportunity came up for our participating in the ROF itself beginning with this year, and as its main orchestra. And so a new agreement was reached for a project that will be developed over the course of several years. The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai is noted for its versatility, allowing it to pass easily from the main symphonic repertory to contemporary music, lending itself also to chamber music and, naturally, to opera, which we regularly present in our seasons, or on special occasions such as La traviata in Paris, Rigoletto in Mantua and La Cenerentola in Turin, all broadcast live in mondovisione. Therefore, the Rossini Opera Festival represents a new and important opportunity for us to test ourselves in the operatic repertory and in the works of a composer who, together with the singing voices, brings the role of the orchestra into high relief.  Besides the operas, each year the OSN Rai will be required to interpret Rossini’s great choral works, beginning with the Stabat Mater that will bring this year’s festival to an end.

The General Administrator of the Festival, Gianfranco Mariotti, declares: “We are highly satisfied with the new agreement with one of the most important Italian orchestras on an international level, and we are particularly so because of the strategic implication that both we and the Rai give to the fact that the agreement covers three years.  In this way we start off from a solid base of clearly defined shared objectives. In the 2017 ROF the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai will take part in three productions: the first performance ever of the critical edition of  Le siège de Corinthe, conducted by Roberto Abbado and produced by La Fura dels Baus, which will open the Festival on August 10th; La pietra del paragon, a revival of the ROF 2002 production conducted by Daniele Rustioni and directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, opening on August 11th ; and the Stabat Mater concluding the Festival on the 22nd of August, this too conducted by Daniele Rustioni.”

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February 22, 25, 28


The art of bel canto will take center stage in Bellini’s lyrical jewel. The electrifying Diana Damrau is Elvira, gripped by madness and love; Javier Camarena, a sensation in his recent appearances in other bel canto works, takes on the role of her beloved and heroic Arturo; and Alexey Markov and Luca Pisaroni are the soldiers caught up in the English Civil War. Maurizio Benini conducts.i_puritani_intro

World premiere: Théâtre Italien, Paris, 1835. I Puritani was the final work from Vincenzo Bellini, the great Sicilian exponent of the bel canto style of opera. It was written specifically for the talents of four of the best singers of its day, and the opera’s success depends almost entirely on the vocal abilities (and artistic sensibilities) of the performers. In our time, Maria Callas was catapulted to international stardom by a series of performances in I Puritani in 1949 at Venice’s La Fenice.



The opera is set in the English Civil War of Puritans (“Roundheads”) versus Royalists (“Cavaliers”). While taking many liberties with history, it is set against a background that was a universal idea and very familiar to Italians in Bellini’s time. The bel canto composers explored with powerful results the relationship of civil strife and individual madness: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor works with a similar, if slightly less explicit, format.





Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835) possessed an extraordinary gift for melody and a thorough understanding of the human voice. His premature death—just as he was achieving international success and expanding in new musical directions—is one of the most unfortunate in the history of music. The librettist, Count Carlo Pepoli (1796–1881), was an Italian political exile living among the seething expatriate circles of Paris.

SYNOPSIS (Courtesy of Metropolitan Opera)

World premiere: Théâtre Italien, Paris, 1835.

The art of bel canto will take center stage in Bellini’s lyrical jewel. The electrifying Diana Damrau is Elvira, gripped by madness and love; Javier Camarena, asensation in his recent appearances in other bel canto works, takes on the role of her beloved and heroic Arturo; and Alexey Markov and Luca Pisaroni are the soldiers caught up in the English Civil War. Maurizio Benini conducts.


England, around 1650. Plymouth, a Puritan stronghold, is threatened by siege from the Royalist troops. Distant voices herald the wedding day of Elvira, daughter of Gualtiero, the fortress’s commander. Riccardo enters lamenting that his promised bride, Elvira, loves another man—a Stuart partisan. Her father will not force her to marry against her will, it seems, so Riccardo’s friend Sir Bruno urges him to devote his life to leading the parliamentary forces.

Elvira tells her uncle, Giorgio, that she would rather die than marry Riccardo. Her uncle reassures her that he has persuaded her father to let her marry her lover, Arturo. Although Arturo is a Royalist, he is heralded as he approaches the castle.

Everyone gathers for the wedding celebration and Arturo greets his bride. He learns that King Charles’s widow, Queen Enrichetta, is a prisoner in the castle and soon to be taken to trial in London. Alone with the queen, Arturo offers to save her even if it means his death. Elvira returns with the bridal veil and capriciously places it over Enrichetta’s head. When he is alone again with the queen, Arturo explains that the veil will provide the perfect disguise for escape from the castle. As they are about to leave, Riccardo stops them, determined to kill his rival. Enrichetta separates them and reveals her identity. Riccardo lets them get away, knowing this will ruin Arturo. The others return for the wedding, and Riccardo tells of Arturo’s escape with Enrichetta. Soldiers rush off in pursuit. Elvira, believing herself betrayed, is overcome by madness.


The townsfolk mourn Elvira’s mental breakdown. Giorgio explains that she continues to long for Arturo. Riccardo arrives to announce that Arturo has been condemned to death by Parliament. The Puritans depart.

Elvira wanders in, reliving her happy past. In her madness, she mistakes Riccardo for Arturo and dreams of her wedding. When she leaves, Giorgio tries to convince Riccardo to save Arturo. At first indignant, Riccardo is finally moved to help Elvira, and the two men unite in patriotism: if Arturo returns as a friend, he shall live—if as an armed enemy, he shall die.


In Elvira’s garden, Arturo reveals that love for her has brought him back to Plymouth. He overhears her sing their old love song and is torn between his affection and his loyalty to the Stuarts. Elvira herself appears and Arturo reassures her that she is his only love. Soldiers rush in to arrest Arturo. Just then, a diplomat arrives with the news of the Royalists’ final defeat and a general amnesty for all the offenders. The shock of this news restores Elvira’s senses, and all rejoice in the peace as Elvira and Arturo embrace their new happiness.

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Seattle Opera presents La Traviata on January 14, 2017


By Giuseppe Verdi

seattlelogoIRRESISTIBLE CLASSIC. Verdi’s passionate portrait of a worldly courtesan forced by bourgeois society to give up the man of her dreams enthralls with a wide range of moods packed into a tautly-constructed story. One of the most perfect scores in opera elevates the timeless tale of moral hypocrisy and selfless sacrifice. Peter Konwitschny’s “five star” (Sunday Telegraph) production emphasizes the elegant music and emotional story with clean, simple visuals and striking sophistication. A milestone in opera history – sure to melt the coldest heart.




20_gallery_traviata-heroAnybody who’s anybody tries to get invited to the parties at the home of Violetta Valéry, the city’s most desirable courtesan. Young Alfredo, who’s just arrived in Paris from the deep rural south of France, has been standing outside gazing adoringly at her door for a year. When he is finally invited inside, he seizes the opportunity and passionately declares his love. Despite initial misgivings, she renounces her wild lifestyle and moves with him to the country.

Violetta’s happy idyll is shattered when Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, confronts her. He demands that she leave his son—not so much for Alfredo’s sake, but because Violetta’s scandalous past is tarnishing their family name and preventing Alfredo’s sister from making an advantageous marriage. The old man convinces Violetta that this pure, innocent sister is more deserving of happiness than a “fallen woman” like her.

Violetta, who knows she is dying of tuberculosis, agrees to distance herself from Alfredo, although the pain of the separation nearly destroys both of them. Alfredo publicly insults Violetta, then wounds her new patron in a duel and flees the country. Both Germonts, father and son, are at Violetta’s bedside when she dies: the father, appalled and ashamed by how much pain he has caused; the son, refusing to let his beloved go; and Violetta, who blesses Alfredo and wishes him future happiness with her dying breath.

GALLERY copyright

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ALCINA in Zurich on New Years’ Eve with Cecilia Bartoli

alcinatitleDramma per musica in three acts, libretto by an unknown writer after the libretto by Antonio Fanzaglia for the opera “L’isola di Alcina” by Riccardo Broschi

The seductive enchantress Alcina has already lured many men to her island kingdom, making them forget their origins, goals and identities and keeping them as male concubines. Once she tires of them, she usually turns them into stones, plants or animals. However, everything suddenly changes with the arrival of the crusader Ruggiero: for the first time, the self-confident sovereign Alcina experiences herself as a loving woman who ultimately has to fight for her love with every means at her disposal.

With the figure of Alcina, Georg Friedrich Handel outlined the fascinating profile of a great lover that is well in advance of the modern age. Yet the other figures in this “magical opera” are also characterised individually. They embark on a long journey, at the end of which they are all reunited in a labyrinth of profound, sombre emotions.

In his production, acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, director Christof Loy initially chooses the baroque theatre as a scenographic metaphor for Alcina’s illusory magical kingdom. He then gradually reveals the downside of this beautiful world. The cast of this revival is a dream: Cecilia Bartoli can once again be heard as Alcina. At her side, Philippe Jaroussky – probably one of the most sought-after countertenors of our time – will introduce himself at Zurich Opera House as Ruggiero. Julie Fuchs as Alcina’s sister Morgana and Varduhi Abrahamyan as Ruggiero’s fiancée Bradamante perfectly embody the baroque character of this work. The Italian baroque specialist Giovanni Antonini will once again be at the rostrum of the Orchestra La Scintilla.


GALLERY (Photos copyright: Monika Rittershaus)


bartoliceciliadeccauliweberFor more than two decades, Cecilia Bartoli has indisputably been one of the leading artists in the field of classical music. Her new opera roles, concert programmes and recording projects – exclusively on Decca – are eagerly awaited all over the world. The enormous success of her solo releases such as The Vivaldi Album, Italian Arias by Gluck, The Salieri Album, Opera proibita, Maria, Sacrificium and Mission is reflected both in extraordinary sales which have firmly established her as today’s best-selling classical artist – more than 10 million copies of audio and video releases occupying the international pop charts for well over 100 weeks and garnering numerous “gold” and “platinum” certifications – and in major awards: five Grammys® (USA), ten Echos and a Bambi (Germany), two Classical Brit Awards (UK), the Victoire de la Musique (France) as well as many other prestigious prizes.

Cecilia Bartoli has brought classical music to millions of people all over the world. But beyond this fact, she is especially gratified that the popularity of her projects has kindled discussions that always lead to comprehensive re-evaluation and rediscovery – that of composers who have been passed over and of repertoire which has been forgotten.cecilialong

Herbert von Karajan, Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt were among the first conductors with whom Cecilia Bartoli worked. They noticed her talent at a very early stage, when she had barely completed her vocal studies with her parents in her home-town of Rome. Since then, many further renowned conductors, pianists and orchestras have been her regular partners. In recent years, her work has begun to focus on collaborations with the most significant period-instrument orchestras (Akademie für Alte Musik, Les Arts Florissants, I Barocchisti, Concentus Musicus Wien, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Il Giardino Armonico, Basle Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Matheus, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Zurich period orchestra La Scintilla). Projects with orchestras in which Cecilia Bartoli assumes the overall artistic responsibility have also become increasingly important to her and were crowned by programmes jointly developed and performed with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Cecilia Bartoli sings in the most important concert halls of Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Her stage appearances include prestigious opera houses and festivals such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Salzburg Festival, the Zurich Opera House and the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris.bartoli_stpetersburg

Cecilia Bartoli devoted herself to the early 19th century – the age of Italian Romanticism and bel canto – in 2008 and in particular to the legendary singer Maria Malibran, whose 200th birthday fell on 24 March. To mark the bicentenary, the artist released a new album, Maria (Edison Award, Prix Caecilia), and the DVD Maria (The Barcelona Concert/Malibran Rediscovered). Rounding off this homage to Maria Malibran and the “Romantic Revolution” were the first complete recording of La sonnambula with period instruments and a mezzo-soprano in the title role (with Juan Diego Flórez as Elvino) and a historically informed rendering of Norma at the Dortmund Konzerthaus in June 2010, with Cecilia Bartoli in the title role.

Much of the artist’s 2009/10 season was dedicated to a rediscovery of music written for the great Neapolitan castrato stars of the 18th century. The release of the record-breaking solo album Sacrificium in October 2009 was accompanied by concerts featuring this repertoire in all the major European musical capitals.

2010 also saw Decca’s DVD release of the Zurich Opera production of Halévy’s tragicomic opera Clari, with Cecilia Bartoli essaying the role created by Maria Malibran and Adam Fischer conducting the period-instrument orchestra La Scintilla. Also released on CD and digital download: Sospiri, a collection of intimate arias from Cecilia’s best-loved albums. Autumn 2012 marked the release of Mission, showcasing arias and duets by the Italian Baroque composer Agostino Steffani. Cecilia Bartoli’s collaborators in this multi-media project (featuring a special iPad app) include Philippe Jaroussky as well as the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera and the period orchestra I Barocchisti under conductor Diego Fasolis. In conjunction with this rapturously acclaimed project (“With Mission she surpasses herself … It’s as though this music had been waiting for an individualist like Bartoli to discover it.” – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), Cecilia Bartoli, I Barocchisti and Diego Fasolis have undertaken an extensive European tour in 2012–13. Their new recording of the Steffani Stabat Mater appeared in September 2013.cecilia_bartoli-1

In 2012 Cecilia Bartoli became Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. In her first year, the theme was Cleopatra. In 2013 the festival was subtitled “Sacrifice – Opfer – Victim” and included a new milestone in Cecilia Bartoli’s career: her stage debut as Norma, with Giovanni Antonini conducting the Orchestra La Scintilla. The same month, May 2013, brought the audio release of Bellini’s opera starring Cecilia Bartoli and conducted by Antonini.

March 2014 saw the release of two Rossini operas starring Bartoli on DVD/Blu-ray, Le Comte Ory and Otello. In April she sang Desdemona in the latter opera in her triumphant return to the Paris stage after an absence of more than 20 years. And in October of this year, Decca is issuing St Petersburg, featuring Baroque arias composed for the court of Catherine the Great and two of her predecessors. Rediscovered by Cecilia Bartoli herself in St. Petersburg, these hidden musical treasures of Tsarist Russia also offer the first opportunity to hear the artist singing in Russian. The new project reunites her with I Barocchisti and Diego Fasolis.

Cecilia Bartoli has been awarded the Italian knighthood and is an “Accademico effettivo” of Santa Cecilia, Rome, a French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite as well as an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, London and of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Most recently, she was given the prestigious Italian prize Bellini d’Oro, a Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes, one of the highest awards of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, and the Médaille Grand Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. On the occasion of the Handel anniversary year of 2009, Cecilia Bartoli was made an honorary member of the advisory board of the Halle Handel House Foundation, and the following year she received the Halle Handel Prize. Also in 2010, she was awarded the renowned Danish Léonie Sonning Music Prize in Copenhagen, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II, as well as an honorary doctorate by the venerable University College of Dublin. In 2012 she was awarded the Herbert von Karajan Prize in Baden-Baden, together with a rare Swiss Award for Culture, and she was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Culturel by the Principality of Monaco.
(Biography from

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Carmen at the Estonian National Opera


Georges Bizet’s opera to Henri Meilhac’s and Ludovic Halévy’s libretto, based on the eponymous novelette by Prosper Mérimée

World premiere: March 3rd, 1875 at Parise Opéra Comique
Premiere on May 26th, 2011 in the Estonian National Opera

S, 3 December 2016 / 19:00  S, 11 December 2016 / 17:00

F, 6 January 2017 / 19:00

  • Sung in French with subtitles in Estonian and English
  • Approx. running time 3 h 30 min, two intermissions


CarmenWhen Carmen was first staged in France (1875), it received negative feedback: its plot was considered immoral and characters vulgar. Bizet shocked the audience by portraying ordinary people on stage – villagers, factory workers, gypsies, smugglers, and by showing the death of the main character on stage. At the premiere, the actors were booed off and the performance was denounced by the critics. Pyotr Tchaikovsky understood the greatness of this piece and predicted a brilliant future for the opera: “Ten years from now it will be the most popular opera in the world”. And he was right, because Carmen bursts with life, passion, liberty and dynamics.

Bizet died only three months after the premiere never knowing that „Carmen“ would become one of the most popular operas in such a short time, being performed in the opera theatres all over the world, and that the toreador’s song and main character’s habanera would be the symbols of opera music for many generations. In the Estonian National Opera, Carmen will be staged by Walter Sutcliffe whose fanciful staging of Così fan tutte was extremely successful last season.

CarmenaSutcliffe considers Carmen multifaceted. “Bizet’s Carmen has many faces. It mixes tense psychological drama and melodrama, documentary and dark comedy, working in formats ranging from the panoramic to the close up, using styles that range from grand opera to intimate spoken theatre to the overtly showy popular musical. Our production will explore these differences, while allowing the documentary style elements of the narrative to put us firmly in the world of Jose and Carmen – to observe their story as it plays out in 19th century Sevilla.”

Staging team

  • Conductors: Vello Pähn, Jüri Alperten, Risto Joost
  • Stage Director: Walter Sutcliffe (England)
  • Designer: Liina Keevallik
  • Lighting Designer: Maldar-Mikk Kuusk
  • Choreographer: Claudia Lenaerts (Shevtshenko)
  • Fight Choreographer: Hellar Bergmann

 GALLERY (Photos by Estonian National Opera)

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Here’s the full program of the 2017 Rossini Opera Festival


Pesaro, 10-22 August 2017

Stage direction will be a leading feature of the XXXVIII edition of the Rossini Opera Festival, which will be inaugurated on the 10th August 2017.

The first production will be by the celebrated Catalan group La Fura dels Baus, following their successes in the leading international theatres, who will stage Le siège de Corinthe, Rossini’s first French opera. The opera will be conducted by the famous conductor Roberto Abbado.

The next will be Mario Martone, a recent winner of the International Opera Awards for our Aureliano in Palmira, who will revive, with an entirely new cast, Torvaldo e Dorliska, the successful production of 2006. The conductor will be the young and rising Francesco Lanzillotta.

Finally Pesaro will witness the return of Pier Luigi Pizzi, an historic presence at the Festival, who will stage a scenically re-elaborated La pietra del paragone, an opera missing from the Festival programme for no fewer than fifteen years. Daniele Rustioni, an important name, will conduct.

The Festival Giovane with Il viaggio a Reims, together with a rich programme of concerts, meetings and various other events complete the prospectus, as usual. The Festival will conclude with the Stabat Mater in live video projection in Piazza del Popolo.

The full schedule with dates and casts is below.2017_programma2ante_page_2 2017_programma2ante_page_2a

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Daral Shaga retraces the parallel destinies of emigrants at La Monnaie in Belgium


11.01.2017 – 15.01.2017


‘All our journeys, all our efforts will lead us to this point: the fence, which lets no one pass without making them bleed.’ A modern tragedy, Daral Shaga retraces the parallel destinies of emigrants, those returning and those heading towards a better future. Their geographical utopia is reflected in the artistic utopia of the project, which mixes opera, circus skills, and video. Pushing themselves to their respective limits, Kris Defoort, Laurent Gaudé, winner of the Prix Goncourt, and the director Fabrice Murgia join forces to tell a story that raises questions about identity and the crossing of borders. Fabrice Murgia, himself the son of a Spanish mother and an Italian father, is one of the best-known Belgian directors of his generation. He composes powerful images with circus performers, based on a score that tacks between jazz and baroque styles. Singers, musicians, and acrobats give a voice to those whom the fences have silenced and made bleed. A gripping, epic tale.


Artistic direction PHILIPPE DE COEN

PRODUCTION Feria Musica, Opéra de Limognes
CO-PRODUCTION Silbersee, Le Sirque, Pôle National des Arts du Cirque, Le Festival des Francophonies en Limousin, Le Maillon – Théâtre de Strasbourg, le Palais des Beaux-Arts de Charleroi
CO-PRESENTATION La Monnaie / De Munt, Théâtre National


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