The Rossini Opera Festival (ROF, 10-22 August 2015) has reached its thirty sixth edition, a target very few expected to be achieved when the series started with a makeshift organization. Now the ROF has three theatres and halls for operas and concerts, an academy to train singers in Rossini's very special musical theatre, a loyal audience from all over the world and an annual Italian government grant as one of four opera festivals of international concern. This edition was preceded by some changes in the management team and, due to the area's economic crisis of industry and banking, a decrease in support from local private partners. Thus, the original program was drastically changed. The cornerstones are the three operas that, in four cycles, can be seen in sequence by an audience coming to Pesaro, the Adriatic town where Rossini was born in 1792. Instead of the customary two new productions and a revival, two revivals and a new production were offered — all of the same kind: semi-serious operas. In addition, every edition features a large series of concerts, including belcanto concerts, and Il Viaggio a Reims in a historical production for the Academy singers. The plan for next year is to go back to two new productions (La Donna del Lago and Il Turco in Italia) and a revival (Ciro in Babilonia), plus the usual mix of tragic and comic operas.
The semi-serious opera is a genre which had a certain success in Italy and France in the years after the French revolution and around 1840, when it was overtaken by melodrama in Italy and opera lyrique. Like in opera à sauvetage, after a rather dramatic plot, intertwined with moments of comic relief, there is a happy ending when the villains are punished and the good people rewarded. I saw the first cycle (10-12 August) in this order: La Gazza Ladra, La Gazzetta and L'Inganno Felice.