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  • The 2022 Donizetti Opera Festival

    The 2022 Donizetti Opera Festival


    The programme includes renowned international stars such as Annalisa Stroppa, the eagerly awaited return of Javier Camarena and Alex Esposito, Alessandro Corbelli and Pietro Spagnoli.

    The emerging artists of the Bottega Donizetti and the Accademia Teatro alla Scala will also be centre stage.

    On the podium, next to the musical director Riccardo Frizza, Sesto Quatrini and Vincenzo Milletarì.

    The productions will be directed by Valentina Carrasco, Gianluca Falaschi and the artistic director Francesco Micheli.

    Bergamo, from 17 November to 4 December 2022


    Everything is ready for the eighth edition of the Donizetti Opera, the international festival dedicated to the composer from Bergamo, organized by the Donizetti Theatre Foundation chaired by Giorgio Berta with the general direction of Massimo Boffelli, the artistic direction of Francesco Micheli and the musical direction of Riccardo Frizza. The festival will take place in Bergamo, “The City of Gaetano Donizetti”, from 17 November to 4 December 2022.

    The presentation of the Festival programme took place at the Allianz Tower in Milan: the insurance group has been Main Partner and Sponsoring Member of the Donizetti Theatre Foundation in Bergamo since November 2020, with a five-year partnership.

    A new edition of the Donizetti Opera festival – awarded the “Oper! Award” as the best European festival for German critics – which explores the different facets of the “generational gap” through the productions. The programme includes a new creation, three Donizetti operatic titles and a series of concerts and collateral events that will be announced in the upcoming months: opening night (17 and 24 November, 1 December) with LU OpeRave, a new creation inspired by music and Donizetti’s most famous work, which will make its debut in an alternative venue that is highly evocative and currently undisclosed; then La favorite (18 and 27 November, 3 December) and L’aio nell’imbarazzo (20 and 26 November, 2 December) will be staged at the Donizetti Theatre; Chiara e Serafina (19 and 25 November, 4 December) will be staged at the Teatro Sociale.

    “Almost a year after the reopening of the Donizetti Theatre – says Massimo Boffelli, general manager of the Donizetti Theatre Foundation –, after the painful closure due to the pandemic and especially after the restoration works that have given us a renewed theatre both in the parts dedicated to the stage production and in all the areas for the audience, we can be very satisfied. In recent months the audience has come back to fill our hall, in opposition to what is happening elsewhere in Italy and Europe, with many sold out shows, starting with the Donizetti Opera 2021 festival. Now we hope that the 2022 edition will have higher percentages of foreign audiences again, so that even those who are not form Bergamo can appreciate the new theatre and the restyling of the entire surrounding area, which has been further improved in recent months.”

    Giacomo Campora, CEO of Allianz S.p.A., commented: “We are delighted to host again the presentation of the 2022 edition of the Donizetti Opera Festival in the Allianz Tower, and we thank Mayor Gori and the executives of the Foundation for choosing our venue for this announcement, as a sign of the support of Allianz to the Donizetti Theatre and to the city of Bergamo, in order to pursue a far-reaching path of cultural and social growth, which will allow major projects that bring national and international attention to the city.”

    “Our present world,” says artistic director Francesco Micheli, “is in rapid and surprising evolution. Change is the only certainty, today as it was 200 years ago. In 1822, the young Gaetano Donizetti made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala with the opera Chiara e Serafina, facing an uncertain world, full of collapses, changes and… fiascos. This was the outcome of the composer’s debut in the Milanese temple. It is our duty to give this complex and fictional opera a new curtain call, and we will do so with the young artists of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala under the guidance of Pietro Spagnoli, with whom we will try to overcome the main crossroads of the plot, creating an unprecedented alliance between generations. Young people who become adults and adults who try to build a better world for young people. This is the world that it is important to design and believe in at this time. Who is our point of reference? The young Gaetano, who learned from life itself the way to build his own world. It can be a hard undertaking, if you let fear prevail: L’aio nell’imbarazzo is the story of a father who is so terrified of the world that he locks his sons up until they are forty; more than the plot of an opera, it sounds like the horoscope of our time. In La favorite, a boy and a girl who come from two secluded places in the world, the gynaecum and the monastery, meet to seek a new path, a new freedom. They will be annihilated. Stories of yesterday that define classic themes to shine on the present time. We dedicate this festival to the young people of Bergamo, conscripts of the most famous fellow citizen in history.”

    The three weekends of the Donizetti Opera 2022 festival will open (17 and 24 November, 1 December) with a new creation, LU OpeRave, in which Donizetti’s music meets electronic music and new trends. The title recalls Donizetti’s most famous opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, which inspired the authors of this new experimental project. The performance will take place in an unconventional city location to be discovered in the coming months, with space for conviviality and the audience as an integral part of the stage action. LU OpeRave is a development of Mixopera vol. 1, an electronic music EP inspired by Donizetti’s works with the participation of several musicians gathered around the Fluidostudio label and released at the end of 2021 on all streaming platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, YouTube Music). The artists involved in this event include some of the performers featured on the EP such as Protopapa, ilromantico, H.E.R.. Mattia Agatiello with his Fattoria Vittadini will direct the show and has created the choreographies.

    “With regard to the theme of the generational gap,” explained musical director Riccardo Frizza, “music has always been at the forefront, having traditionally been based on the relationship between masters and pupils, as well as between performers with longer careers and new promises. In this sense, this edition of the festival – whose programme is inspired by the master-pupil relationship that linked Johann Simon Mayr and Gaetano Donizetti –features experts of the repertoire such as Alex Esposito, Alessandro Corbelli, Javier Camarena, Pietro Spagnoli, Annalisa Stroppa, Florian Sempey alongside a large group of new artists, coming from excellent training paths, who, among other things, symbolize the festival’s desire to be a showcase of new talents. Among the maestri who enrich the experience of this edition, we are very glad to welcome the new maestro of the Donizetti Opera Choir, Bruno Casoni, long-standing protagonist of Italian opera choirs. I take this opportunity to newly make my commitment to Donizetti, greeting all the participants of the press conference from New York, where I am currently engaged in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor. This occasion will be made even more important by the arrival in New York of the autograph score of the opera, owned by the City of Bergamo and preserved at the Mai Library.”

    Two operas will be staged at the Donizetti Theatre: a grand-opéra from Donizetti’s mature production, La favorite (1840), and the early melodramma giocoso L’aio nell’imbarazzo (1824). The Teatro Sociale has always been the venue of the #Donizetti200 project, which this year will feature an important work, the opera that marked Donizetti’s (unsuccessful) debut at the Teatro alla Scala, and which after those performances in 1822 was forgotten and never performed again: Chiara e Serafina, or Il pirata.

    As it is customary for us, the study and research into the legacy and codification of Donizetti’s operatic musical identity, entrusted to the careful scientific department of the Donizetti Theatre Foundation directed by Paolo Fabbri, is crucial to the preparation of the festival programme, as well as to the choice of the critical editions or to their philological reconstruction.

    For La favorite (Donizetti Theatre 18 and 27 November, 3December), in the critical edition by Rebecca Harris-Warrick, published by Ricordi with the collaboration and contribution of the Municipality of Bergamo and the Donizetti Theatre Foundation, the musical director of the festival Riccardo Frizza will be on the podium conducting the Donizetti Opera Orchestra. The production – newly co-produced with the Opéra National de Bordeaux – is directed by Valentina Carrasco with her team composed of Carles Berga and Peter van Praet for set designs (the latter also lighting designer), Silvia Aymonino (costumes) and Massimiliano Volpini (choreographies). Premiered at the Paris Opéra in 1840, today we can say that La favorite is the “daughter” opera of L’Ange de Nisida, rediscovered and premiered in Bergamo in 2019. The outstanding cast includes great performers such as mezzo-soprano Annalisa Stroppa (Léonor), tenor Javier Camarena (Fernand), baritone Florian Sempey (Alphonse XI), and also Evgeny Stavinsky (Barthazar), Edoardo Milletti (Don Gaspar) and Caterina Di Tonno (Inès). The chorus will be made up of members of the Donizetti Opera Choir and those of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala conducted by Salvo Sgrò.

    “Make way for the young” could be the motto for the other two operas in the programme, where the relationship between parents and children is at the core of the dramaturgy just as that between masters and pupils, veterans and newcomers characterises the production staging.

    L’aio nell’imbarazzo, performed in Rome in 1824, is one of Donizetti’s first great successes: a comic opera based on Rossini’s model, but which already displays the psychological depth of the great comedies of his mature production. Presented in the new critical edition by Maria Chiara Bertieri for the Donizetti Theatre Foundation, it is the work of the “Bottega Donizetti”, an advanced masterclass in which bass-baritone Alex Esposito from Bergamo – just like in a Renaissance workshop – passes on theatrical knowledge and vocal technique to young singers selected from all over the world. L’aio nell’imbarazzo is entrusted to them but with the charismatic presence of Esposito himself in the title role and of great Alessandro Corbelli as Don Giulio, the father who secludes his sons at home for fear of women. The production also has a young director, Vincenzo Milletarì, and the Festival’s artistic director, Francesco Micheli, will direct it. Sets are by Mauro Tinti, costumes by Giada Masi, dramaturgy by Alberto Mattioli. With the Festival Orchestra and Choir conducted by Bruno Casoni.

    The rediscovery of the 2022 festival is certainly Chiara e Serafina (Teatro Sociale 19 and 25 November, 4 December), the title of the #Donizetti200 project, never staged after 1822. The Festival offers this opera the chance to take a new curtain call in a production in collaboration with the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala –as part of a long-standing and fruitful collaboration – whose students will feature in the company of young singers, the Choir (directed by Salvo Sgrò) with a chaperon like Pietro Spagnoli in the role of Don Meschino. On the podium is Sesto Quatrini; direction, sets and costumes by Gianluca Falaschi; the orchestra Gli Originali continues its exploration of Donizetti’s period instruments.

    As is now customary, the official 2022 activities dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti, organised by the Donizetti Theatre Foundation, will be inaugurated by the “Donizetti Revolution”, scheduled at the Donizetti Theatre on Wednesday 6 April at 8 p.m. Conceived and realised by artistic director Francesco Micheli in collaboration with Alberto Mattioli for the dramaturgy, this eighth edition will feature mezzo-soprano Annalisa Stroppa, pianist Hana Lee and other surprise guests. The show’s presenting partner is Automha. For the event, several high schools of Bergamo have been involved, whose students –during their “cooperative education” period, coordinated by the teaching staff of the festival within the PIC (Integrated Cultural Plan) of Regione Lombardia (“Cantiere Teatro – Young Education Program of the Donizetti Theatre”) – have created some video contributions that will be part of the show and will be available on the social network profiles of the Donizetti Opera. In addition, a group of 40 students will play a significant dramaturgical role in the show.

    Donizetti was a revolutionary of art, the inventor of Italian musical romanticism, ”claims the festival’s dramaturg Alberto Mattioli, “always ahead of his time, a brilliant creator of stories in which we still believe because they are like emotional dynamite exploding in our hearts and minds. To revolutionize the revolutionary, bringing him into the contemporary world, explaining that his stories are not old stories but eternal ones, is the task of the Festival. Donizetti is not a reassuring icon of the past but a stimulus for the present, a contemporary of ours who for two centuries has been explaining to us what we are, and why. But also that discovering it together with him is a spectacle, a party and a joy. Revolutionaries.”

    Performances will start at 8 p.m. on weekdays and at 3.30 p.m. on Sundays.