The XXXIX edition of the Rossini Opera Festival will be launched on Saturday 11 August at 8.00 p.m. with the first night of Ricciardo e Zoraide, a serious opera in two acts with libretto by Francesco Berio di Salsa, first performed at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples, on the 3rd December 1818. The opera is returning to the Festival after 22 years.
The new production (to be performed on the 11th, 14th, 17th and 20th August at 8.00 p.m. at the Adriatic Arena) is conducted by Giacomo Sagripanti, with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI and the Chorus of the Teatro Ventidio Basso (Chorus Master Giovanni Farina), and staged by Marshall Pynkoski, making his first appearance at the ROF, assisted by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg (choreography), Gerard Gauci (Settings), Michael Gianfrancesco (costumes) and Michelle Ramsay (lighting). The cast is led by Juan Diego Flórez, Sergey Romanovsky, Pretty Yende and Nicola Ulivieri, supported by Victoria Yarovaya, Xabier Anduaga, Sofia Mchedlishvili, Martiniana Antonie and Ruzil Gatin.
The stage director Marshall Pynkoski describes the performance thus: “We have decided to avoid staging a contrast between black men and white, on the contrary, the drama will focus on the struggle for power within relationships and on the clashes between the principal characters. I believe that apart from the purely aesthetic point of view, Ricciardo e Zoraide was never meant to be a representation of the African or of the European world.”
“In the story” – Pynkoski continues – “I have not found any deep conflict between religions, the only reference to a cultural diversity being represented by Agorante’s assertion when he claims to be allowed to have more than one wife. Apart from this the feelings of the main characters are identical whether they are Mohammedans or Christians: the latter, in effect, are the more ambiguous and, if you like, dishonest, often resorting to trickery and subterfuges, while the Mohammedans, on the contrary, are more direct and honest with regard to their feelings and their political aims. The contrasts between cultures and religions are far fewer than, for example, in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Another thing that I have deliberately avoided is creating a parallel between today’s struggles that the Western world has with Islam and the waves of refugees and immigrants, because I believe that in doing this we would weaken the intentions of the librettists of that day.”
The Canadian director goes on to say: “Rossini’s scores are enriched by long lyrical passages that I particularly love because they allow the stage director to create moments of intimacy between the characters and also allow the insertion of ballet and of scenic effects that concentrate one’s attention even more on what the characters are singing about. Dancing, in fact, will take on a role of great importance in our production and it will be introduced during the various choruses and instrumental interludes: the dancers will be an integral part of the action both of the chorus and the soloists.”
The first performance of Ricciardo e Zoraide will be broadcast live on the radio by RaiRadioTre and in direct streaming on the Rai website on the 11th August at 8.00 p.m.; Rai5 will telecast the opera on the 30th August at 9.15 p.m.