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Arena Sferisterio • Macerata
The Sferisterio di Macerata, inaugurated in 1829, is an imposing neoclassical building designed by Ireneo Aleandri, originally intended for the game of ball and bracelet. After the first opera performance in 1921, the Sferisterio has been the site of an important summer opera season since 1967, today the Macerata Opera Festival. Theater of Tradition since 1973, the management of the artistic activity in 1993 passed from the Municipality to the Arena Sferisterio Association.


The Arena Sferisterio Association, set up by the Municipality of Macerata and the Province of Macerata, promotes and organizes the opera season of the Macerata Opera Festival. In the current summer seasons the Sferisterio also hosts significant musical events complementary to the opera program.

Designed by the young architect Ireneo Aleandri (1795 - 1885) and inaugurated in 1829, lo Sferisterio of Macerata it is a construction of important dimensions, destined to the ball game with the bracelet, team sport that has its roots in antiquity probably originating from a game played by the Romans. Widespread starting from the sixteenth century, sport is one of the oldest Italian national games, very popular in the nineteenth century, especially in Tuscany and the Marche. Numerous spheristries were erected in various cities of Italy, and the game was also sung by Giacomo Leopardi in the' Ode to a winner in the balloon dedicated to the champion Carlo Didimi.

The construction of the Sferisterio was financed by the "One hundred spouses " wealthy citizens of Macerata who wanted to erect the structure "To adorn the city, to public delight" as the inscription affixed on the facade says.

In addition to the games of the Ball on the Bracelet, the building also hosted public performances, such as the celebration of parties, the organization of rides, equestrian parades, political and sporting events, the reception of equestrian circuses and bull hunts.

Characterized by the neoclassical colonnade, the Sferisterio has a circular segment plan, with an imposing rectilinear wall that delimits the large open central area, and is equipped with excellent natural acoustics, so much so as to suggest in the 1921 an ambitious project: to represent theAida of greens.

Promoter of the initiative, the count Pier Alberto Conti, which transformed the Sferisterio into a grandiose one open air theater: the structure was renovated with the construction of a large stage and the opening of a central door in the majestic wall, still used today. The first performance took place on July 27, 1921, in front of 10 thousand people who came from all over Italy. The success was enormous, with about 70 thousand spectators totaled in the 17 evenings of performances.

The attempt to replicate its splendor the following year, 1922, with The Gioconda Ponchielli did not have the desired effect, and the organization of opera performances was suspended. Apart from a sporadic appearance of Beniamino Gigli in 1927 with a concert in favor of the invalids of the Great War, after a period that saw the Sferisterio used as a cinema, opera returned only in 1967.

Thanks to the work of the Marches Carlo Perucci, unforgotten artistic director for the next twenty-eight years, the theater experienced a great rise. New installations, a new lighting system and the opening of the three arches in the background of the stage set off a successful path that continues to this day.

The August 3, 1967 With the'Othello of greens the first summer opera season was inaugurated. In 1973, thanks to the excellent level of the productions and the artists hired, the Sferisterio obtains the recognition as Theater of Tradition. In December 1986 the Municipality and the Province of Macerata constitute theArena Sferisterio Association, in order "to better enhance the artistic and cultural potential already expressed through numerous opera, ballet, concert and prose seasons performed at the Sferisterio". Only five years later, on 15 October 1991, with the ministerial decree of recognition of the legal personality, the Association became operational and from the summer 1993 manages the opera activity of the Sferisterio Arena, taking over from the previous municipal management.

In 2006 under the artistic direction of Pier Luigi Pizzi, the Season turns into the "Sferisterio Opera Festival", Which in 2012 changed the name to"Macerata Opera Festival".

The Sferisterio now has almost 2500 seats, 104 stages, and with the quality of the proposals, the extraordinary acoustics, the imposing stage and the charm of the building, it attracts an international audience from all over the world.

Arena Sferisterio • Macerata
Some installations like La Boheme of Ken Russell, in 1984, the famous Traviata of the Mirrors of the teacher Josef Svoboda, in 1992, the Turandot conceived by Hugo De Ana, in 1996.

Many famous singers have performed at the Sferisterio over the years, starting with Mario Del Monaco in the inaugural Othello of 1967, to continue with Luciano Pavarotti, Katia Ricciarelli, Renato Bruson, Montserrat Caballé, Placido Domingo, Alfredo Kraus, Marilyn Horne, Fiorenza Cossotto, Ruggero Raimondi, Mariella Devia, Josè Carreras, Franco Corelli, Tito Gobbi, Sesto Bruscantini, Birgit Nilsson, Raina Kabaivanska , and many others.

See also

Macerata Opera FestivalThe Macerata Opera… more

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Macerata Opera Festival 2022Opera, Cinema and Symphony… more

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