Live Broadcast, Saturday at 7:15 pm
Michele Mariotti has an uncanny relationship to Gioachino Rossini.
On Saturday evening WFMT features a live broadcast of opening night at the Civic Opera House for Lyric Opera’s production of Il barbieri di Siviglia. It will be the first Lyric appearance of the young Italian conductor Michele Mariotti who spoke with WFMT about Rossini and Barber. Mariotti is a rising star in the conducting world. The LA Times praises his “old-school Italian opera conducting.” And he is old school—literally.
Like Rossini, the 35-year-old Michele Mariotti was born in Pesaro, Italy; as children, both scampered around opera houses: Rossini sang a little, played horn, started composing as a youngster; Mariotti developed in the shadows of his father’s life’s work: a Rossini opera festival, and critical editions of all the Rossini operas.
The lineage between the Rossini Opera Festival and the composer himself is unbroken. In 1818 the town of Pesaro opened a new opera house on the site of an earlier 1637 theater. Rossini inaugurated that house with La gazza ladra. Pesaro eventually renamed the theater Teatro Rossini (1854). In that very same house, 126 years later, Mariotti’s (the elder) Rossini Opera Festival opened.
The connections between that composer and this conductor go even deeper. It was Rossini’s dying wish that his estate be given to the town of Pesaro for the establishment of a music school. The State Conservatory “G. Rossini” Pesaro opened its doors in 1882—it’s the very same institution that educated young Michele Mariotti. There’s also a Bologna connection: after Rossini’s father was jailed for supporting Napoleon, the family moved to Bologna; the boy Rossini became involved with the local opera house, the Teatro Comunale di Bolonga—guess who now serves as principal conductor there?
The Barber of Seville runs at Lyric Opera of Chicago through the month of February.