‘C’erano una volta due bergamasche’ is the title of a special Operashow to be created by the great bergamasque bass Alex Esposito and his Donizetti Academy of young singers to open the 2021 Festival Donizetti and Opera Europa’s autumn conference on 18 November. It is part of a programme devised by Festival Director Francesco Micheli to inject new life and welcome back the opera world to this beautiful Lombard city which suffered among the most when the pandemic struck in 2020.
Bergamo is also a city with two exquisite historic theatres, both lovingly restored in recent years. The late 18th century Teatro Donizetti re-opened last year, and this year will house new productions of two of the composer’s most popular comedies. L’elisir d’amore will be directed by Frederick Wake-Walker and conducted by the Festival’s Music Director Riccardo Frizza with the period instruments of Gli Orginali and a cast led by Javier Camarena, Caterina Sala, Florian Sempey and Roberto Frontali. La fille du régiment will be performed in the new critical edition, conducted by the young Italian Michele Spotti and staged by the young Cuban Ernesto Donas, with John Osborn, Sara Blanch and Paolo Bordogna.
The rival Teatro Sociale, dating from 1809, sits among the winding, cobbled streets of the Città Alta near the top of the hill and accessible from the Lower Town by funicular railway. It will be the location for the opening Operashow, and also a new produc tion by Francesco Micheli of Medea in Corinto by Donizetti’s teacher and mentor Johann Simon Mayr, in the special version created by Mayr for Teatro Sociale 200 years ago in 1821. Medea will be conducted by Jonathan Brandani and the cast is led by Carmela Remigio and Antonino Siragusa. You may visit Mayr’s tomb, along with Donizetti’s, in the nearby Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, which dates from the 12th century.
We shall work on curating the conference programme during the summer and expect to announce it in the autumn edition of the newsletter at the beginning of September. As usual, it will seek to address the topical issues of the day, and we make no apology for the continued focus on opportunities for young artists, albeit from fresh perspectives, because it is a joint concern of the Festival and of our members.
Francesco Micheli plans some further surprises for the audiences before the performances, both inside and outside the theatre. The traditional hospitality of the city and lively festival atmosphere guarantee a warm welcome, so please reserve the dates 18 to 21 November 2021 in your calendar.