The interview of the month

Meet Alexia Mariotti, Head of Secretariat.. Can you tell us about your professional experience before joining ROF?
“I started working at ROF when I was 24 years old; before that I did a few odd jobs, substitute teaching in schools, part-time office work; in the meantime I studied Modern Literature at the University of Urbino, with a curriculum focused entirely on theatre literature, and prepared myself, with lukewarm enthusiasm, to take part in competitions that would have allowed me to teach in primary schools. Prose theatre was, and still is, one of my great passions, and the unacknowledged dream of one day working in theatre organisation (for my family, theatre was not a real job, come on) was, at that time, little more than a pipe dream”.

What was your first contact with the Festival? 
“It was in 1995, I went for an interview as a General Services Officer for the ROF edition that was being prepared. Of course, I knew the ROF by reputation and was intrigued by it, but in my experience, theatre coincided with prose and I had never attended an opera! However, it seemed like a good opportunity to get close to what I considered to be my dream job and I jumped at the chance. The interview was conducted by Alberico Miniucchi, then Director of the Theatre of the Municipality of Pesaro, and I remember it in detail as if it had happened yesterday; it was an intense moment that I supported with great emotion, even though I knew that I would never be accepted. They took me. The phone call informing me of the outcome was bizarre and went something like this: The job is yours if you really want it: you will only work for a month, we will decide the hours, you will work in the evenings, you will work on the August holiday, you will have one day off a week, but forget about Sundays. Also, you won’t be doing general services, we need you in administration. Do you accept? I thought about it for just a second and, ignoring a rather confused relationship with numbers, I imprudently agreed. On the morning of one of my first days on the job, I was sent on an errand to the Pala Festival. On entering, I absent-mindedly turned towards the stage and what I saw took my breath away: there was a forest on the stage, wasn’t there? No, not real,’ I said to myself, ‘that’s impossible… and yet… It was the forest of Guillaume Tell, conceived by Pier Luigi Pizzi and created by our extraordinary technicians. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life, and that was the moment I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The next 10 years passed in a stubborn attempt to convince the rest of the world that this was indeed where I was supposed to be, doing all sorts of jobs that allowed me to have summers off, turning down various ‘safe’ jobs, fighting against my family and against common sense. It worked, and I have been working as a Intendant’s secretary since 2008”.

Can you explain what your job involves?
“The tasks of a secretariat such as the ROF are so varied and transversal that it is not easy to define them. Materially, I follow the bosses’ agendas, draft contracts, revise texts, prepare for board meetings, but there is a part of the job that is more elusive, with less defined contours. Superintendent Ernesto Palacio addressed me in public a few years ago, calling me ‘abbess’. Needless to say, this epithet was very popular with my colleagues and has become my nickname. So I would say that this is the essence and meaning of my work: I look after the monastery”.

What is your favourite memory of your experience at ROF?
“It is not easy to answer this question, I am lucky to work in an environment that has allowed me to accumulate a huge number of precious memories. However, there is a common thread running through them, as they are all the result of special encounters. The secretariat of an international festival such as the ROF is a crossroads of encounters, and the exceptional nature of the people I have the privilege of dealing with is astonishing. Perhaps the most beautiful memory coincides with the most important meeting: as secretary to the Superintendent, I was able to work closely with Gianfranco Mariotti for years. It was not easy at first, I am very shy, he has a very stubborn personality, I was afraid I would come off badly. But that didn’t happen. On the contrary, working with him has meant a lot to me: It has certainly been a great honour, I feel dizzy every time I think about what he has been able to bring to life; it has also been enormous fun, and I am talking about the kind of fun you have as a child, the kind that fills you with wonder, that makes you learn new things every day, that allows you to experiment with things that are much bigger than you are, while always feeling safe; finally, it has been my most important opportunity for growth, professionally but above all as a human being. It sounds rhetorical, but it is not. Because of my surname, the question I have been asked most often throughout my professional life is whether or not I am Gianfranco Mariotti’s daughter, and every time I say emphatically that I am not. And that’s the truth, but the truth is also that Mariotti is a bit like the father of all of us who are part of this strange microcosm that is the ROF, which in the end – it pains me to agree with my parents – is much more like a family than a real job”.

Published in : 28 December 2023