The interview of the month

21 September 2023

Federica Bassani is the music archivist of the Rossini Opera Festival.
Can you tell us about your professional experience before joining ROF?
I graduated in violin and music theory from the Conservatory G. Rossini in Pesaro. Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro and then graduated in Modern Literature at the Carlo Bo University in Urbino under the guidance of Professor Emilio Pozzi. Together with other young musicians from Urbino, I founded the cultural association Accademia Filarmonica Urbinate (Urbino Philharmonic Academy), based in the historic Cappella musicale del SS. Sacramento (Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament) in Urbino. The aim of the association, in which I taught chamber music and orchestral music and gave concerts, was to promote musical culture in the local area. 
At the same time I continued to study the violin, attending specialisation courses and working with various orchestras. Music had certainly become an important part of my life, but I still had no clear idea of what my future choices would be. One thing I was sure of: since high school I had had to juggle the rigours of school with those of the conservatory, and trips to Pesaro were frequent, often up to four a week. I had promised myself that when I finished my studies at the Conservatory I would never go back to Pesaro. Well, never trust your own certainties: Little did I know that I was about to embark on a new adventure that would take me to Pesaro for 26 years!

What was your first contact with the festival?
My first experience with the ROF was in 1998. I had been familiar with the Rossini Opera Festival for some time and had had the opportunity to attend the Rossini operas in the summer programme on several occasions, being very impressed by the beauty and quality of the performances. But when I think back to my first contact with the Festival, I am reminded of the first time I entered the central offices of the ROF, when, at the suggestion of a friend, I decided to go and hand in my CV; the Festival's main office was on the third floor of Palazzo Toschi Mosca. 
To my surprise, after a few months I was contacted by the secretariat to check the possibility of a job as music archivist. At that time the archivist's job was for the three summer months. So I started working at the Rossini Opera Festival in June 1998. I still remember the first task I was given: to check that the codes on the scores I received matched those on the letters sent to the artists. The request seemed rather strange to me, since everything was already written down, but I carried out my task with commitment.  It did not take long for me to realise that the request made sense: 26 festivals have passed, and every year, just like the first time, the time comes to check that the codes of the scores delivered match those given in the letters sent to the artists.

You are the festival's music archivist. Could you explain what your job involves?
Over the years, the tasks of the Music Archive Office have expanded as a result of changes in the Festival's programme. My main task is to manage the musical material needed for the performances. 
Each professional involved in a production (singers, conductors, choirmasters, choristers, collaborating masters, orchestras) needs specific musical material, and my office is responsible for providing it. The preparation of the materials involves musical assistance, ranging from the simple transcription of the arcata marks in the orchestral material, for example, to more specific interventions such as transcriptions, adaptations, transpositions, insertions. The materials have to be updated and all those involved have to be informed. At the end of the festival, the entire production of the edition will be archived in relation to specific aspects of the performance. If a show is taken over or co-produced with another theatre, all the necessary information can be retrieved. The office is also responsible for managing the audio and video archives of the performances, compiling the Borderos and liaising with Casa Ricordi or other publishers for the loan of materials.
Since 2010 I have been working with Crescendo per Rossini, a didactic project for schools of all levels aimed at deepening knowledge of melodrama and the composer from Pesaro. In recent years, the educational offer has been extended with a project aimed at the University of Urbino, the prison of Pesaro and with the activation of a training course for teachers.

What is your favourite memory of your experience at ROF?
Difficult to name just one. There are many memories and new ones are added every year. However, there is one particularly exciting moment that repeats itself: the dress rehearsal of the performances/works. The work finally comes together and the difficulties encountered are forgotten. I understand the importance of teamwork and am proud to be a part of it.