The interview of the month

22 July 2023

Let's get to know Alejandro Abrante, the Festival's Public Relations Manager.

Can you tell us about your professional experiences before joining ROF? 

I was born in Tenerife, Canary Islands, in a family of entrepreneurs. I studied law and philosophy with a doctoral thesis in philosophy of economics. From an early age, I had three great passions: one for sports, the second for music, particularly classical music, and the last, no less important, travelling. All three somehow marked my path, my destiny.... In those years I spent my free time between swimming and music, and during the summer I travelled with my family or alone. Therefore, my memories of my high school days lead me back to the smell of chlorine in the swimming pool, piano study, music history, evenings at the opera, theatre, cinema, trips to Europe and my rooms in summer boarding schools in England. As Giovenale would say, I spent my adolescence with 'mens sana in corpore sano'.

My mother had a strong impact in all this as she was the one who fostered these passions, always by my side. On the one hand, she accompanied me to training and competitions, and on the other hand, she stimulated my creativity towards the performing arts. The first time I remember hearing an opera was when I was a child: I had just turned eight when my mother gave me a record of Maria Callas singing Tosca at La Scala with Di Stefano and Gobbi, conducted by Maestro Victor de Sabata. Even today, when I see the cover of that record, I feel nostalgic for that first encounter with opera. Several times in my life, when I have encountered the sublime in its various forms, I have always tried to reproduce that unforgettable initiatory experience in other circumstances or moments. For me, work is a question of ethics: it requires enthusiasm, joy, good disposition, professionalism and, above all, passion. Passion can move, change and improve the world. One of the strongest since my childhood has been music and all kinds of performance and performing arts. This led me to intensify my research into the different types of music in the world and I came to the conclusion that opera is the greatest artistic manifestation that man has achieved in western civilisation. Opera was born in Italy, and it was from here that I began a journey through various Italian composers... and came to the conclusion that opera is a 100% "Made in Italy" product, and that thanks to it, Italy has achieved a sense of cultural unity before political unity.

Thanks to the language of music, from the north with Donizetti from Bergamo to the south with Bellini from Catania, through the Duchy of Parma with Verdi or the Tuscan Puccini (to name the most popular), a people that had always been divided for so many reasons (language, traditions, idiosyncrasies or politics) came together. But the most famous of his time, at least for me, was undoubtedly the 'Swan of Pesaro': Gioachino Rossini. In the early part of my life, I changed jobs practically every three or four years, diversifying my experiences both privately and professionally, thanks to the opportunities of the labour market in those years. I can say that I have been very lucky in my life, especially because I have been able to choose the jobs I wanted to do and gain wonderful professional experiences. So I put my enthusiasm and passion into everything I did: at school and university, at the Institute for Ibero-American Cooperation, at the European Parliament, in United Nations cooperation agencies, etc. Over the years, I have been involved in various international cooperation projects that have taken me to many countries, such as England, Jordan, Poland, France, Argentina, Russia, etc.

But, as I said, from a very young age I felt the call of beauty and, above all, I developed a great love for Italy and for the opera. Twenty-five years ago, before working in the field of cultural management, I came to Italy on a forty-day journey, an almost messianic journey and, without knowing it, or at least without being aware of it, prophetic of a new stage in my life. So in 2005, with the help of a period of reflection, I made a Copernican revolution in my life, leaving behind my old projects and embarking on a new journey towards the old passions that I had never forgotten. And I allowed myself to work in the opera market, immediately founding in 2006 the agency Iria-Art SL, of which I was artistic director for twenty years, and establishing my new life in Brianza. In Milan, my training began in the singing class of Maestra Bianca Maria Casoni, and I continued by taking part in singing competitions, especially in Como (As.Li.Co) and Pesaro (ROF), a city with which I had a love affair.

From that moment on, I decided to dedicate myself to this world, eventually taking on the position of director of the Tenerife Opera, which I managed to place at the centre of a network of international collaborations in Europe and South America, including participation in Opera Europa and OLA - Opera Latinoamericana. My intention was to create quality tourism in my homeland, based on the Italian model, and to involve the whole island in projects of international quality and popular appeal. This experience also led me to become an artistic advisor at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and an international relations officer at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna. What I am most proud of is the creation of the Opera(e)Studio (2013-2020) to introduce new singers to the international opera market, with dozens of young artists embarking on global careers, and with the highest accolade as a winner of the Creative Europe 2018-2020 programme (in collaboration with the Teatro Comunale di Bologna and the National Opera of Georgia, Tbilisi).

As head of international relations at the Comunale di Bologna, I have also been able to build bridges and strong links with Asia. We worked on the UNESCO 'Music Cities Convention', the world's largest meeting on music cities, held this year in Chengdu, China, where government leaders, academics, organisations and theatres from all over the world exchanged ideas on the practices and uses of music to improve cities, employment, education or the creation of spaces for the development of the arts in general. And since last year, another of my dreams has come true, that of working at the ROF, where it all began, and I believe that the sum of these experiences, combined with the passion I mentioned at the beginning, can bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the already efficient ROF system, a source of joy and pride for me.

What was your first contact with the Festival?

The first time I heard of the city of Pesaro was when I was studying music history at high school, as the city where Rossini was born, his illustrious ambassador, and thanks to the Festival that was created to recover his work and give his art the place it deserves in historical memory. However, it was some years later that I became aware of the ROF and its prestige, in fact I remember the moment, it was in 1998 during a conversation with a friend in Gran Canaria. He told me about the historic debut of the very young Juan Diego Flórez, of whom I was an unconditional fan, in Shabran's opera Matilde. But it was almost seven years before I came to Pesaro for the first time, for personal reasons.

Everyone knows that a fundamental part of my education in the world of opera and its market was gained here in Pesaro and at the ROF, among others, from two extraordinary personalities that the Festival has had throughout its history: On the one hand, Maestro Alberto Zedda, from whom I have learnt a great deal, both in terms of cultural management and in terms of issues more intrinsic to the Festival itself: how to build relationships between people and institutions, how to solve problems when conflict situations arise in the intersubjectivity of everyday life - an apprenticeship lived in practice for more than a decade. The second personality is Maestro Ernesto Palacio. My knowledge and relationship with him goes further back in time, as it began even before founding my opera agency in 2006. My relationship with Ernesto Palacio was of immense esteem first as a singer and then as an agent. I learned a lot about managing an artist and how to maintain a professional relationship between artist and agent.

In this way, alongside each of them for more than twenty years, I have absorbed their words, their deeds, their experience as if I were a sponge in order to be able to work at my best in the various fields in which I have developed my career throughout inside the lyrical world.

You are in charge of the Public Relations office. Can you explain to us what your job consists of?

In the call for the identification of the public relations manager of the Rossini Opera Festival Foundation, I was asked to talk about the reasons for presenting myself as a candidate for this position for the Festival. For me the answer was very clear, the Rossini Opera Festival for me: it is much more than a showcase of Italian opera inserted in an artistic context. On the one hand, it is the perfect place where a project of internationalization and synergy between culture and tourism of both national and international quality has been carried out for forty-four years. On the other, he is the custodian of the Rossini tradition. In my concrete field I also have to manage international and national relations with other theaters and institutions and make sure to work in a network with co-productions.

This means a huge responsibility on the part of all of us who work for the festival. It is like a large clock which, in order to work, must have all the mechanisms in perfect coordination and synchronization: it means collaborating between all the offices, all the departments and showing the work done throughout a year, a great team effort. In our case a department that is interconnected with the others: marketing, promotion, communication, press office: imagine a large ship sailing for a month in a huge ocean, with thousands of people that we have to receive and manage (this year 36 evenings! ). Therefore, accepting a job like this, in addition to being a huge responsibility, was a great challenge for me because it was like entering a house that was familiar and new at the same time, because it was seen from another perspective.I could not imagine the challenge becoming so exciting since every day we have different types of issues to solve and with a team of colleagues like Simona Giannini who also takes care of the ceremonial and Paola Fabbri, we solve everything with creativity and ease. There must be many skills, to merge into a single purpose: to take care of all the shows, the previews open to the public, paying attention to every detail and nuance, so that everyone is welcomed as they deserve and because they feel at home, despite the event official.

What is your dearest memory of your experience at ROF? 

Since I became aware of its existence more than twenty years ago, part of my life revolves around it. Summer after summer I have seen a different ROF and when the end of August arrives, I am full of melancholy but with the desire for a new July to start all over again. Each ROF brings me life, enthusiasm and passion. The Rossini Opera Festival transforms Pesaro not only into a tourist city for sun and beach on the Adriatic coast, but also into a meeting point of cultures and an international audience, as a Unesco city of music should be. I would like to conclude with a sentence from the Founder of ROF, doctor Gianfranco Mariotti: "The Rossini Opera Festival is not just opera, the ROF has the peculiarity of enveloping everyone in the feeling of belonging to a group, of belonging to a large family that transcends time , borders and communicates through music.”Thus, I can only add: Pesaro and the ROF are part of the history of Italy and absolutely part of my history.