The interview of the month

23 April 2023

Patricia Franceschini, head of Box Office and Promotion: let's get to know her better!

What was your first contact with the world of opera?

I was born and grew up in Germany and music has played a decisive role since my childhood. At home, we listened to classical, opera and all kinds of music, we sang and educated our ears naturally and playfully by listening to a record of Prokofiev's musical fairy tale Peter and the Wolf or a tape of the Nibelungen saga, for example. I was later fascinated by the voice of Maria Callas, whose inimitable timbre leaked out of the turntable speakers and flooded my room. Thinking about it, I find it interesting how much auditory stimuli mattered in everyday life even compared to visual ones.

But I also practised, singing in a children's choir, as a teenager in the Bremen cathedral choir and one of my fondest memories was taking part in Peter Maxwell Davies' children's opera Cinderella (1979) staged at the Theater Bremen in 1982 and on other stages in northern Germany. It was fantastic to be part of a small troupe, to learn stage movements, to wear lavish costumes, to go to make-up and to breathe the air of the backstage and stage. As a spectator, I vividly remember a staging of Alban Berg's opera Lulu that I saw in the mid-1980s at the Bremen Theatre, the expressive power of the tonality and staging impressed me greatly. Starting from those years I continued to attend opera houses more or less assiduously in Italy and abroad, places that exert an incredible fascination also for their history and architectural beauty.

How did you get to ROF? Tell us how it was.

I had only been living in Italy for a few years, it was the mid-1990s, and I was dividing my time between studying Literature and Foreign Languages, training courses for tour operators, and seasonal jobs as an Interpreter in German, English and Spanish when I heard about a staff selection for the ROF and took the entrance exam. Shortly afterwards, I was called by the then Superintendent Gianfranco Mariotti and Artistic Director Luigi Ferrari for a cognitive interview and later entrusted with the management of the Festival's Ticketing Services. I was enthusiastic, as the ROF represents an unique model of applied theatre workshop on a regional level and at the same time one of the most renowned opera festivals on an international scale and the ideal environment where to bring together my skills and passions.

You are responsible for Ticketing and Promotion. Can you tell us more about what your job consists of?

In fact, this profession has many facets. On the one hand, there are technical and instrumental aspects being able to exercise, starting with the use and management of a specific ticketing software. Technology is constantly evolving, and one of the challenges is, for example, interpreting the feasibility of a system and being able to identify customisations adapted to the specific needs of the Festival. Just this year we will change the ticketing software in line with the ever-increasing demand for online purchases. Duties also include accounting and fiscal tasks in dealing with the SIAE. Also part of my duties are the training, placement and co-ordination of ticketing office staff who join my office in the busiest months, close co-operation with colleagues in other departments and the Festival Management, and the processing and production of data and reports. Another part of my work that is no less important and, indeed, I would say very stimulating, is that I dedicate to the ROF audience. I really enjoy maintaining relations with our spectators and professional operators from all corners of the earth. The relationships and the human aspects are of primary relevance to me and I take care of the communication and the needs of the festival-goers by also applying my language skills and this is very rewarding. This year, too, we can’t wait to welcome the spectators for a new Rossinian adventure!

With this in mind, the work of the Promotion Department also fits in perfectly with that of the Ticketing Department, which has been added to my duties since 2007. The dissemination of information, activities and events to be developed together with the Communication, Publishing and Marketing offices, as well as the presentation of the Festival at workshops and fairs in the cultural tourism sector, belong to this sphere. It also concerns particular initiatives to which I have contributed, such as the introduction of ROF merchandising as of 2012 and the building of a network with the Italian Cultural Institutes abroad with numerous events that have taken place since 2013 and include masterclasses, video screenings of our works, recitals, conferences and photo exhibitions. I gladly recall some from the first hour such as Paolo Bordogna's recital at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò in New York accompanied by pianist Sean Kelly in the presence of many of our US Friends and Supporters, Jessica Pratt's talk at the IIC in Sydney, the participation together with a delegation for the presentation of the excellences of the Marche region at the IIC and the Italian Embassy in Tokyo, but also the video screenings held in the Institutes of Vienna, Munich, Paris, Dublin, Hamburg, Strasbourg, Buenos Aires and many more.

What is your fondest memory of your experience at the Festival?

It is really not easy to choose from the many experiences I have had. One of them was definitely Pierluigi Pizzi's staging of Guillaume Tell with Gianluigi Gelmetti conducting in 1995, the year I started working at the ROF. We were at the former Palafestival, the opera was staged on a generously sized stage with outstanding Rossinian performers such as Michele Pertusi, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz, Gregory Kunde, Daniela Dessì, Monica Bacelli and the participation of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, étoiles Alessandra Ferri and Josè Manuel Careño choreographed by Heinz Spoerli. It was a splendid and mammoth production, given that it was the full version execution of more than four hours. I remember the 1,300-seat hall being packed for all the performances, the thunderous ovations and being very moved listening to the choral pieces masterfully interpreted by the Krakow Radio Choir and the Prague Chamber Choir and the solemn finale extolling Freedom... theese were truly magical moments... chilling.

Is there a thought or wish you would like to address to the near future?

2024, the year in which Pesaro will be the Italian Capital of Culture, will also mark my personal 30th anniversary at the ROF. The city is already preparing to welcome the many people from all backgrounds who will want to be part of the myriad of activities. It will be great to see them strolling the streets and squares and once again spectators crowding our theatres to experience that special expectation that precedes every curtain-raising.