Pesaro, on the Adriatic coast south of Rimini in Italy, is mainly known as an upmarket beach town with a number of fine buildings in the town centre. However opera lovers also know it as the birthplace of Giaocchini Rossini, and every summer they flock to the opera festival held in his memory.
Rossini and Pesaro
Rossini was born in Pesaro in 1792 to parents who were musicians. The family was forced to leave the town five years later as a result of his father’s political activity during the Napoleonic occupation of Pesaro. Although Rossini never returned to live there (much of his life being spent in France or in Bologna) he retained strong links with Pesaro and when he died in 1868 he left most of his money to the Town Council to establish a free music school.
This legacy was used to build the town’s Conservatory of Music, which today has around 850 full time students as well as training teachers and holding musical master classes. It also enabled the creation of the Fondazione Rossini, which is dedicated to the study of music and to the recovery and performance of Rossini’s lesser known works.
Visitors to Pesaro can walk into the courtyard of the Conservatory with its statue of Rossini. They can also see the Teatro Rossini and the Casa Rossini. The theatre was built as the Teatro Nuovo in 1818 and opened to a performance of Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie) conducted by the composer himself. It was renamed in honour of Rossini in 1854.
The Rossini birthplace (Casa Rossini), on the main street, is now open as a musuem. In the basement of the house you can enjoy a video recording of performances from the summer opera festival.
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Rossini Opera Festival
Today Rossini is best known for Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and the “William Tell Overture”. However he composed over 30 operas, chamber music and sacred music. In 1980 the Rossini Opera Festival was established with the aim of bringing some of the more obscure works to the attention of a wider audience. This takes place each August in the Teatro Rossini and other locations in Pesaro.
Other places of interest in Pesaro
Pesaro has a number of interesting churches, including Sant’Agostino, with its ornate choir stalls, and the Cathedral. The Musei Civici contains an art gallery and some fine ceramics. There is also an archaeological museum. And in the Piazzale della Libertà, near the sea front, you can see Arnaldo Pomodoro’s enormous bronze sculpture La Grande Sfera (Great Sphere).