We start with Il viaggio a Reims (Friday 5 and Sunday 7 October), a rare gem by Gioachino Rossini, inspired by a text by Madame de Staël and with wonderful music conducted by Michele Scotti. Directed by Michal Znaniecki, this surreal and entertaining story of the nobility en route to Charles X’s coronation is set among the drawing rooms and saunas of an old-fashioned inn. Then there’s an everlasting masterpiece: Giacomo Puccini‘s Tosca (Friday 19 and Sunday 21 October), directed by Andrea Cigni and conducted by Valerio Galli; this is followed by an incomparable theatrical gem, Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (Friday 7 and Sunday 9 December), conducted by Marcello Mottadelli and – in a brand new staging – directed by Roberto Catalano with scenery by Emanuele Sinisi and costumes by Ilaria Ariemme, a team who were highly acclaimed for the Donizetti-Mayr duo of productions in the 2017 festival. As ever, the orchestra for the OperaLombardia performances will be the Pomeriggi Musicali orchestra, alongside the OperaLombardia chorus.
The subscription includes two of the operas from the Donizetti Opera Festival. Enrico di Borgogna (Friday 23 and Sunday 25 November; Saturday 1 December out of subscription), the 2018 title of the #donizetti200 project, which saw the composer’s debut in Venice in 1818; on the conductor’s podium is Alessandro de Marchi with his Accademia Montis Regalis, internationally famous for their knowledge of and respect for period performance methods; the cast includes Anna Bonitatibus en travesti as the protagonist, Sonia Ganassi, Levy Sekgapane and Luca Tittoto, all major figures on international stages today. The chorus (conducted by Fabio Tartari) is that of the Donizetti Opera festival.
The second Donizetti title is Il Castello di Kenilworth (Friday 30 November and Sunday 2 December – Saturday 24 November out of subscription), starring two much-loved divas, Jessica Pratt – artist in residence for the 2018 festival – and Carmela Remigio, alongside Xabier Anduaga alternating with Francisco Brito, and Stefan Popp. Conducting the Donizetti Opera Orchestra is the festival’s musical director Riccardo Frizza. The opera is directed by Maria Pilar Pèrez Aspa; scenery by Angelo Sala and costumes by Ursula Patzak.
The subscription is completed by two contrasting concerts: for Section A (Friday 9 November): Escualo! – From the Tangoes of the Guardia Vieja to the Tango Nuevo of Astor Piazzolla and Luis Bacalov; the duo Giampaolo Bandini (guitar) and Cesare Chiacchiaretta (bandoneon) with a roundup of famous figures including Astor Piazzolla, Leo Brouwer and Luis Bacalov. In Section C (Sunday 23 December), Christmas Concert with the Piccoli Musici di Casazza conducted by Mario Mora.
The opera and concert programme of the Fondazione Teatro Donizetti is completed by all the out of subscription events in the Donizetti Opera Festival directed by Francesco Micheli, including a concert by the RAI National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Frizza, a performance by the great soprano Mariella Devia and Haydn’s The Creation.