The interview of the month

Sabrina Signoretti is responsible for the Festival’s Artistic Secretariat.
Can you tell us about your professional experiences before joining the ROF?
“After a degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, I arrived at the Festival almost by chance following a rigorous selection process that took place in the second half of the 1990s. At that time, I was working at the foreign sales office of a major multinational company and had undertaken some professional experience in the translation and interpreting sector. At the same time, I was also involved in the organisation of some English-language prose theatre performances in collaboration with the University of Urbino, in a semi-professional capacity, where I was in charge of managing the event, which was open to a paying audience, from promotion to organising the company’s rehearsals, to finding the means of transport for the scenes, just to mention a few examples. It was an engaging experience on a personal and human level and very rewarding on a professional level because it gave me the opportunity to enrich my skills. Somehow it was at that moment that the spark was ignited that then guided me in the direction of the work I still do today at the Festival.

What was your first contact with the Festival?
“In 1994, following government directives, the Rossini Opera Festival Foundation had been established, a public-private body with the City Council, the Province, the Cassa di Risparmio Foundation, the Banca Popolare dell’Adriatico and the Scavolini Foundation as founders. This fact gave a considerable impetus to the definition of the organisational machine as we know it today, more modern and streamlined from the regulatory, managerial and organisational point of view. It was precisely in those years that a series of new and specific professional activities developed around the Festival machine, in the artistic, technical and administrative-management spheres, with significant effects on employment. Although my first contact with the Festival was to all intents and purposes a fortuitous and collateral event, which happened by pure chance when I was fourteen years old, one warm summer evening I went to get ice cream for a group of friends at Franco’s ice cream parlour, later made famous by the Festival because it was right opposite the Rossini theatre: the ice-cream parlour was teeming with elegant, ecstatic, smiling people; it was probably the interval between acts of La gazza ladra, the first opera to be staged at the Rossini Opera Festival in 1980.  The theatre, which had been closed for restoration for some twenty years, came back to life that season, and so did the city centre, and all this thanks to the Festival, and I remember that at that moment I could not hide a surge of deep satisfaction and pride. However, I had to wait a few more years or so to come into contact with the Festival in person, and finally I attended the premiere of a historic production, that Guillaume Tell by Pier Luigi Pizzi and Gianluigi Gelmetti that has remained in my memory and that of many colleagues, as well as of a large part of the Italian and foreign public; a memory that I keep with great joy is linked to that event: at the end of the dress rehearsal, when we were all in raptures and somewhat shocked by the beauty of what we had witnessed, the founder of the Festival, Gianfranco Mariotti, as well as the current Honorary President, passed me by, and bringing his hands to my face and with eyes glittering with emotion he said ‘Did you see what we did? ‘, letting me think that in my own small way I too had contributed to a memorable performance, I who had only arrived at the Festival a few months before!”.

You are responsible for the Artistic Secretariat. Can you explain what your job consists of?
“At the Festival, I take care of the economic and logistical negotiations connected with the presence of the artists and the choral and orchestral companies, developing the calendar envisaged by the Superintendant and the Artistic Director into a rehearsal plan where all the various production steps of a performance are indicated. The rehearsal schedule is the framework from which the work of the sectors that contribute to the staging of a performance, represented by the administrative-managerial, technical and artistic departments, unfolds and takes shape. In fact, one thing I learnt as soon as I set foot in the Festival is that ours is a team effort, a true collaboration between the departments that work together to find the best solutions to the daily challenges. What I love most about my job is the feeling of being part of something great, something that will remain in the memory of the theatre, the security of being part of a story that goes way back, from the moment when melodrama was born in Italy. Of course, in the meantime the operating methods have changed, but basically what it takes to stage a performance has remained unchanged. Breathing the air of the stage is a pernicious virus, even if you are neither a singer nor an actor, something remains inside you that draws you closer and always takes you there, to live and share the passions and feelings sublimated by the music and narrated on stage, but also to empathise with the soloists, the chorus artists and the orchestra professors, to feel the adrenalin and passion of the performers who every evening put themselves on the line to renew the magic on stage is a unique privilege”.

What is your fondest memory of your experience at ROF?
“A professional moment that I remember with great pleasure was the first time I attended the presentation of the artistic project of a work, it was Emilio Sagi’s Equivoco stravagante presented at the 2002 edition of the Festival. Perhaps not everyone knows that the creative process starts a long way back; the invitation to the director can be made two or three years in advance of the staging of the work he has been assigned. At least a year before the staging, a date is set for the presentation of the project, which is also attended by the co-producers, if the opera is co-produced with another theatre, and during the meeting the artistic project and the sketches of the sets and costumes by the creative team are illustrated, all this in the presence of the Festival’s top management, the technical and management directions, and the technical department heads. After an outline approval of the project by the Superintendent and Artistic Director, the scenographer delivers the drawings, the set designer may have to prepare the executives, i.e. the technical drawings needed to request quotations. Sometimes further technical drawings or computer simulations are needed to evaluate the best construction choices. Then there may be changes that the technical direction will have to discuss with the set designer, sometimes reductions in the scene are necessary to stay within the budget. From there on, the actual production process starts, we are not yet at the stage of rehearsals and then of subsequent performances, but in a kind of work in progress, adding new details every day with a view to the final staging. This magic repeats itself for me every year, at each project presentation, and for this I am immensely grateful”.

Published in : 18 May 2023