Macerata Opera Festival. Opera and accessibility.

Macerata Opera Festival, Opera for everyone

Since 2008, Macerata Opera Festival opened up to accessibility with a project that is free and unique in Italy. As early as 2008, during the entire run of the Festival, the Audio Description Service is active for the benefit of visually impaired people.
The soirees with Audio Description are preceded by three tactile and themed routes, designed not only for visually impaired people but open to the whole audience.
Since 2009, Macerata Opera Festival has also offered the Subtitling Service in order to facilitate access of people with hearing loss to all planned performances. A service useful for the entire audience, actually.
Finally, since 2017, there has been two important news: all opera performances’ surtitles are also in English, and it’s possible to do a guide tour throughout the Opera House hiring a Italian sing language guide

How do you combine learning, art and social inclusion in your project?

Thanks to routes that suit everybody and the translations of Opera performances in different languages, we have made the Opera experience accessible to the whole audience. Moreover, we turned the Sferisterio (the ancient theatre in Macerata) into a place of and for everyone.

What was the project’s objective and how is it changed during the process?

Macerata Opera Festival opened up to accessibility services back in 2008, with the Audio Description Service for the Operas, but it grew up over time.
In 2016, in cooperation with the “Museo Tattile Statale Omero”, a tour between the arts and nature’s beauty of Marche Region (Italian Region) has been developed.
Then, the Surtitling Service, that has been active since 2009 in Italian language, was also offered in English language for a year.
Furthermore, since last year, Theatre and Opera itinerary in Italian sign language has been introduced.

The Festival has grown up in terms of services offered and in terms of audience: from 160 people in 2014, to 190 in 2015, 220 in 2016 and almost 300 in 2017.

Tell us a story, an anecdote, a particular moment related to the project

When the project designer and coordinator, Elena Di Giovanni, got me involved asking me to think a way to introduce people with hearing loss to Opera I immediately understood the importance of this assignment and I accepted the challenge. We don’t often have the opportunity to access cultural events, particularly in a complex and unusual context like the Opera.

There are many stories about the enthusiasm of people involved. Once a child said: “Thank you because today I find out a lot of beautiful things that I could have never imagined!”. Well, this was my gift for my work, a pure, simple and beautiful gift.
In my life I’ve chosen to give the opportunity to people to be touched, informed and enriched and this is what I am going to keep doing, tirelessly.

There are a lot of anecdotes about the tactile routes.
Here’s the feedback of a girl with visually disability, coming from Matera:

“At the end of my staying in Macerata when the curtain came down on Aida – in my opinion, the best performance of the Festival – I would like to thank the people that allowed me to go through an wonderful experience like Opera, at the same level as “normally sighted people.”
Starting from tonight, I will be able to tell everybody the story of Madama Butterfly, Aida and Turandot, thanks to the Audio Descriptions carried out in the best possible way by a superb team led by a determined professor, Elena Di Giovanni. She wanted to make the accessibility an asset and an added value of this Festival, because “Opera is for everyone”.
In a world less and less inclusive and frightfully populated by Leibnizian monads, I’ll bring with me the simplicity, expertise, kindness of all those incredible people I worked with during the Festival. Those people have allowed us to access Opera with more awareness.
During this music experience, I met some incredible people, that are like angels for me, thanks to whom we are more aware of the benefit of the Opera. I’ll take them with me in a world less and less inclusive, scarily inhabited
Thank you with all my heart, my new friend. You’ll remain in my heart.”

Opera and Sferisterio of and for everyone.


For more information on the project, visit the Website


Macerata Opera Festival Accessibilità – Link:

Supervisor Macerata Opera Festival: Luciano Messi
Project coordinator: Elena Di Giovanni – Università degli Studi di Macerata
Surtitling Maestro: Daniele Gabrielli
Audio Descriptions and itineraries: Francesca Raffi
Accessibility Services: Chiara Pazzelli
Itineraries LIS: Consuelo Agnesi
Partner: Università degli Studi di Macerata, Unione Italiana Ciechi e Ipovedenti – Sezione Provinciale di Macerata, Museo Tattile Statale Omero (Ancona), Montclair State University (New Jersey, USA).

Tactile Itineraries are made in collaboration with Macerata Opera Festival workers and FORM (Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana).

Video and photo: Alia e Luna Simoncini