On 24 May 2019, an excited Melbourne audience witnessed a night of spectacular entertainment and magnificent music in the Australian première of Rossini’s 1825 opera Il Viaggio a Reims, exuberantly reimagined by Damiano Michieletto.
Il Viaggio is an opera with multiple backstories. It was Rossini’s first commission when the superstar of early-nineteenth-century Italian opera took up his new job managing the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. This occasional work marked the coronation of conservative ultra-royalist Charles X, brother of the unfortunate Louis XVI. Charles chose to revive ancient French traditions and to have his reign consecrated in Reims, while in Paris his staff commissioned operas to glorify the virtues of church and monarchy, facing down the turbulent politics of the day.