One of the highlights of our summer is the Macerata Opera Festival. Every July and August three productions, generally of Grand Opera are staged in the magnificent Sferisterio Opera House. Built originally for the game bracciale, where a ball was played against a long stretch of the ancient city walls using menacing spiked gauntlets, the building is now used for more urbane purposes.
We like to book a box with 4 friends and enjoy the spectacle with a civilising drop of prosecco which you are welcome to bring into the building. This year we attended Norma, above, and Il Trovatore whose gloomy plot is made cheerful by Verdi’s lively music.
An opera buff friend, for whom Macerata is a regular diary entry, along with Glyndebourne and Wexford, rates the Macerata festival as the best in Italy. Though maybe not built for music, the huge back drop reverberates the sound around the auditorium as previously bracciale balls ricoched against it. The acoustics are surprisingly good and complement the world class opera singers.
This year we also visited Macerata for “La Notte del Opera” – A night at the opera. On this evening, and just for one night, the city plays host to musical tableau. This year brass bands seemed to be the dominant theme, playing popular dities from the operas but in a quiet street you might find an impresario singing Nessun Dorma from a balcony.
And it would certainly be hard to sleep when the city is partying like this. All of the bars, cafes and restaurants spill out into the streets and piazze serving a wide range of food and drink to the thousands of people who descend on the town for the night. Then there are the tables set up in a garden where friendly volunteers provide glue, scissors and the cardboard templates you need to build your own mini Sferisterio Opera House – to children of all ages.
For those who enjoy good tub-thumping tunes, the 2017 season, with an Eastern theme, features Madame Butterfly, Turandot and Aida. Read all about it here.