DAVID WILKINS visits the Rossini Opera Festival
in Pesaro, Italy - August 2002
You can hardly imagine a composer who would have delighted more in witnessing
the frolics of his fellows than Gioacchino Rossini. The fashionable, the
flirtatious, all those opportunities for disguise and escapism, the silly
but, in the end, entirely revocable escapades which fuel his operas are
now an established part of the glorious institution that we call our 'summer
holiday'. His rather stately birthplace of Pesaro has, however, moved on
somewhat radically since his initial gasps for its air in 1792. It is, now,
just another bit of Adriatic coast tourist opportunism. It is, though, blessed
with a couple of advantages -- it's an access point to the riches of Urbino
and it can boast an international opera festival dedicated to a lively and
scholarly presentation of the works of the city's benign and beguiling most
Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro, 9-23 August 2002
The promenade area is all beach umbrellas and would-be beautiful bodies.
The multitude of available ice-cream flavours is some kind of plus but a
niggling memory finally drew me back to John Drummond's description of his
own disappointment (Tainted By Experience -- A Life In The Arts).
Escaping from the trials of directorship of the Edinburgh Festival in 1983,
he tried his accustomed reviver of a trip to Venice but: -- 'After two melancholy
days in the rain I knew it was not the answer, hired a car, and drove down
the coast to Pesaro -- unrecognizable from my student days in Perugia, when
we used to go there to swim: now like part of an Italian Costa Brava.
I turned inland to Urbino, and was rewarded with the largest parking fine
I have ever had in my life ...'
Well -- I see his point but it was my first visit, so I had no nostalgia
to invoke. The Costa Brava aspects are avoidable if you don't feel
the need of sand between your toes. There is a cheap and efficient bus service
to Urbino that obviates parking fines and, if you make that journey, there
is -- amongst other wonders -- the, to me, stunning impact of Piero Della
Francesca's Flagellation: surely as provocative a picture as you
might encounter anywhere in the world. And then, back on the coast, there
is Rossini and his operas.
Copyright © 8 September 2002
David Wilkins, Eastbourne, Sussex, UK