This summer, Associate Professor of Voice Dr. Anthony Offerle served as stage director and managing artistic director for the internationally acclaimed Operafestival di Roma. Now in its eighteenth year, the festival brings students and faculty together from around the world to study, rehearse and perform opera in the heart of Italy’s Eternal City.
The program this season was one of the most successful and rewarding in the history of the festival, thanks in no small part to the collaboration with faculty and staff from the University of Florida who taught, designed and produced the monthlong program. Dr. Offerle initiated two innovative changes to this year’s festival. He teamed with colleagues around the country to create a consortium of ten colleges and universities to support the event. Among these are Louisiana State University, University of Southern Mississippi and Samford University. Another innovation was the addition of a second city to the production schedule. Collaborating with the directors of Orvieto Musica and Opera Orvieto, the cast and crew was in residency in the beautiful Etruscan city of Orvieto for two weeks of production and performances at the historic Teatro Mancinelli.
Highlights included performances of Puccini’s Suor Angelica with Dr. Offerle as director, at San Paolo dentro le Mura in downtown Rome, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Dugg McDonough, director) in Orvieto at the Teatro Mancinelli, opera scenes and master classes. Both productions were produced with the L’Orchestra di Orvieto Musica under the baton of the internationally renowned conductor, Nyela Basney.
Of the 45 students who joined the cast, eight were from UF’s School of Music and School of Theatre + Dance. Associate Professor of of Costume Technology/Design Stacey Galloway and Assistant Production Manager Austin Gresham collaborated with designers and directors from around the U.S. to create two beautiful, fully-staged productions. Jennifer Coolidge, director of development for the College of the Arts, saved the day by calling upon her connections in congress to solicit the United States Embassy’s support in releasing the group's costumes from Italian customs.
"The student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, as has the response from the international faculty members who have been with the program for many years," said Dr. Offerle. "Our students not only made significant progress in their chosen fields of music and theatre, but have made professional contacts, new friendships and shared experiences they will keep for a lifetime."