Friday 14th August will mark the return, at 11.00 a.m. at the Teatro Rossini (with a repeat at the same time on Monday 17th) of Il viaggio a Reims, the scenic cantata which has now become a symbol of the Rossini Opera Festival. This memorable revival, produced by Luca Ronconi, to whom the Rof 2015 is dedicated, has now taken a firm place in the history of twentieth-century opera; from that moment the Viaggio has entered the permanent repertory of opera houses all over the world, becoming one of the most frequently performed of Rossini’s operas.
First produced at the Théâtre-Italien, Paris, on the 19th June 1825 to celebrate the coronation of King Charles X, which took place at Reims, the opera was immediately hailed by critics as one of Rossini’s happiest creations. Its subsequent mysterious disappearance settled its fate: it was thought that Rossini had destroyed the score because he was unsatisfied with its artistic merits, but fate decreed that it should be accidentally re-discovered in Rome, in the Santa Cecilia library.
Beginning in 2001 the Rof, as part of the Youth Festival, has offered performances of Il viaggio by the young singers who have been forming their style in the Accademia Rossiniana. This arduous task has prepared many of them for singing on the stages of important theatres, beginning with the Pesaro Festival, which this year is once more engaging several ex-pupils in its performances.
The production is the well-tried one by Emilio Sagi, rehearsed by Elisabetta Courir, with costumes by Pepa Ojanguren. The Venezuelan conductor Manuel López-Gomez will conduct the Filarmonica Rossini, a Pesaro ensemble appearing at the Festival for the first time. The casts for the two performances will feature Giuseppina Bridelli and Federica Di Trapani (Corinna), Cecilia Molinari and Shirin Eskandani (Marchesa Melibea), Salome Jicia and Kaori Nagamachi (Contessa di Folleville), Ruth Iniesta and Leslie Visco (Madama Cortese), Sunnyboy Dladla (Cavalier Belfiore), Xiang Xu and Rubén Pérez Rodríguez (Conte di Libenskof), Sundet Baigozhin and Alessandro Abis (Lord Sidney), Pablo Ruiz (Don Profondo), Vincenzo Nizzardo (Barone di Trombonok), Carlo Checchi (Don Alvaro/Antonio), Shi Zong (Don Prudenzio), Dangelo Fernando Díaz (Don Luigino/Zefirino/Gelsomino), Carmen Buendía (Delia), Shirin Eskandani and Cecilia Molinari (Maddalena), Kaori Nagamachi and Salome Jicia (Modestina).
The story, little more than a pretext for inspiring a series of effervescent musical numbers, takes place at Plombières. In the spa hotel Il Giglio d’Oro [the Golden Lily] various aristocrats from all over Europe have gathered: they are all bound for Reims, where the new King of France, Charles X, will be crowned. After various vicissitudes (amorous and otherwise) they learn that the long-awaited journey is impossible: in all Plombières there are no longer any horses to be hired or even bought, given the great number of people who are getting ready to go to the ceremony. So the hotel guests decide to return to Paris, where great festivities are being prepared in honour of the new King.