On Sunday, 11 August, at 12.55 p.m., the RAI3 channel, on its programme “Prima della prima” [Before the First Night], will take viewers backstage at the Rossini Opera Festival for Matilde di Shabran. The director, Mario Martone, enjoyed the collaboration of Sergio Tramonti for the scenery and Ursula Patzak for the costumes. Michele Mariotti conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Comunale, Bologna. The cast features Olga Peretyatko (Matilde di Shabran), Juan Diego Flórez (Corradino), Nicola Alaimo (Aliprando) and Paolo Bordogna (Isidoro). The style of Martone’s production is metaphysical, somewhere between realistic and abstract, dominated at centre stage by a double spiral staircase, the entrance to the old castle that here is referred to but only imagined. It is inhabited by Corradino, known as “Cuor di Ferro” [Iron-Heart] for his total devotion to martial arts and for his extreme misogyny, the tower-keeper Ginardo and the doctor, Aliprando. Corradino, who reluctantly receives an unexpected visit from Matilde, is struck for the first time by Cupid’s dart and, despite all the manoeuvres of the jealous Contessa D’Arco, who would like him for herself, lets himself get carried away by his own feelings and, in the end, opens his heart to generosity and makes peace with his enemies. In a televised interview during the programme Martone declares: “I am very attached to this opera because for me it meant the discovery of Rossini’s musical theatre: a discovery both exciting and sensual. Ideas for scenery and production came to me through the music. I did not decide what to do by thinking of the plot, but through listening to the quintet. From the moment that I listened to the quintet this double spiral staircase formed itself in my mind. Then, all the rest of it followed suit.” This episode has been directed for television by Angela Landini.