Passions & Places




Opera for All

"While much of the Marche may be spectacularly rural, it is certainly no cultural backwater. It can boast two of Italy's most celebrated opera seasons, a series of top flight international summer music festivals, a remarkable 71 historic theatres, over 246 museums and some of the world's greatest masterpieces of Renaissance art. There are also scores of cinemas, a handful of film festivals, frequent rock concerts and dance performances."

Le Marche’s has two world-class attractions for opera lovers - the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro and the open-air Opera Festival at Macerata. Both draw performers and audiences from across the world and, along with Verona, are the most important events in the Italian summer opera calendar.

Pesaro was the birthplace of Gioacchino Rossini, the master of bel canto, and the annual Opera Festival in August has earned a worldwide reputation for reviving works from his seemingly endless repertory.

Macerata's open-air Opera Festival in July and August has found an international following and takes place in the 7,000-seater Sferisterio - a monster of a Neoclassical arena erected in the 1820's. As you swoon to a Verdi aria, you might care to know that it was originally built as a stadium for pallone, or Italian football.

Many of the larger towns in the region organise annual summer musical festivals with leading Italian and foreign artists - whether you want jazz, classical or world music sounds, you'll find something to your taste.

A selection of the best include Jazz by the Sea in early July at Fano, the Klezmer Music Festival of Jewish music at Ancona in late July, the international Music Festival at Fermo in July and August, the International Piano Competition at Senigallia in late August-early September, and Il Violino e la Selce, an open-air season of modern music, dance and opera under the direction of Italy's popular singer Franco Battiato at Fano in July-August.

As well as summer events, there are plenty of opportunities for musical divertimento during the rest of the year. These include Jesi's annual Opera season from late September to early November and the International Accordion Festival at Castelfidardo in October, one of the world's leading events dedicated to the instrument.

The marchigiani have always had a strong passion for the theatre and with over 70 beautifully restored historic stages scattered throughout the region there are plenty of opportunities for a dramatic night out.

There are also a number of outstanding festivals of theatre including the annual festival at Amandola, and the open-air season of Classical drama in the Roman amphitheatre at Urbisaglia.

With so many art galleries and museums - 240 at the last count - the region hosts numerous special exhibitions, many of international status. Ask at the nearest tourist office for the latest news.

If you like to use your free time on less cultural activities, you might like to know that Le Marche also has some of Italy's best night spots and dance clubs. You'll find them mostly down by the coast. And at Gradara you'll even find a club that opens its doors at 9 o'clock on Sunday morning - who said you can only dance away your life in London?

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