Home of Gioachino Rossini
Gioachino Rossini (1793-1868)
Probably the most famous of all the locally born celebrities was Gioacchino Rossini. Everyone has heard the overture to his opera William Tell, and, even in his lifetime he was a superstar.
He was born on 29th February 1792 in Pesaro in the Marche, son of a slaughterhouse inspector and a baker’s daughter. But both his parents were also musicians and he grew up in a house full of music.
He showed musical talent very early and even wrote his first opera age 13 (though this was not staged until six years later)!
At the age of 14 he was sent to Bologna to study music at the Conservatory, and was nicknamed ‘il Tedeschino’ (the little German) because of his love of classical German composers. At the age of 18 he had his first opera staged in Venice. His career went from strength to strength and he became artistic director and resident composer at the Opera House in Naples at the tender age of 23. He remained in this post for seven years, producing 20 operas during this time, including The Barber of Seville and Cenerentola (Cinderella).
He lived and worked in London and Paris, but, after completing WilliamTell, he abandoned opera as a medium at the age of just 37, and returned to live in Bologna. After this time he composed very little, and only pieces for his own satisfaction, such as the beautiful Stabat Mater and a setting of the Mass (Le Petit Messe Solennelle).
He was married twice; first to the Spanish soprano, Isabella Colbran, who he lived with for a relatively short time, and after her death in 1846, he married the woman he had been living with for 15 years, Olympe Pelissier. She was a beautiful Parisian socialite and artists’ model and held popular cultural salons.
At the age of 63 he returned to Paris where he died on 13th November 1868. His remains were transferred to the Basilica di San Croce in Florence in 1887.
The Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro.
Pesaro, the birthplace of the composer, honours their illustrious son each year in August with a festival, encouraging revival and performance of his work in a unique setting.
Operas are performed in the Teatro Rossini, an 850 seat theatre built in 1881, and also, more recently in the stadium which seats 1,500. This venue has been described as ‘one of the world’s most interesting and exciting opera houses’.
There are many other venues used for talks, plays and classes in the town, including a small studio theatre (Teatro Sperimentale) which is used during the festival to stage small scale works by lesser-known contemporaries of Rossini, such as Mosca and Generali.
If you are an opera fan this festival offers a wonderful opportunity to see Rossini superbly performed in a glorious setting.