The first Rossini Week on the German Blatic Sea is over and we are very tired!
It has been a great, challenging and enrichening experience. The evaluation is positive, but there is also much to learn from this first step. Within the next weeks we hope to sit down with the tourism and culture responsibles of the region and plan for the future.
The aim of smARTourism was to create a cultural event for the off-season with the involvement of cultural and tourism sectors and local life in order to attract a new target group with explicit cultural interests to the Baltic Sea. At the same time, the cooperation tourism and culture meant experimenting a new financial model for the realisation of cultural events.
The idea for the Rossini Week was born amongst three people with passion for their work:
- the Rossini pianist Alessandro Marangoni
- the cultural tourism manager and local development consultant with theatre background Katharina Trabert
- the hotel and tourism expert Kristin Poppinga
An idea was born the decision taken to implemented in first steps immediately. It was January 2012 and the first Rossini Week was scheduled for 9th – 15th of April. Focus of the programme would be Gioachino Rossini´s mature piano music, the „sins of old age“, unknown to most of the world. A real special – which represents USP but which needs to be communicated to the public!
The challange – to intersect the cultural programme with the hotel business and promote Rossini packages.
The time frame – hardly 3 months to plan, prepare, organise.
The resources – no budget, 1 person at work, a lot of motivation and joy, and the great pianist Alessandro Marangoni!
What followed: printing of flyers, programming, research, writing, PR work, visit to the cultural tourism fair in Hamburg, reading, talks with cooperation partners, composition of menus for the restaurant, press concerence, etc…
Two young gymnasts are making a “stretching choreography” with Rossini´s “Gymnastique d´écartement”
We were encouraged by the great support of important cooperation partners despite the tight time factor: the Hotel Schweriner Hof, the German Rossini Society, the art gallery of Kühlungsborn, the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, the theatre group Sansibar, the gymnastic group from Doberan and the solist Jamila Raimbekova from the Volkstheaters Rostock.
For smARTourism the primary aim was to develop a programme, which would then be the base for all further developments of our Rossini activities, regionally and internationally.
PR work was hard, time consuming and the results were few. This might be because as organisers we started from zero establishing contacts. Also, the initiative was completely new and not many people are aware that Rossini has composed a lot of beautiful music after giving up the opera. More travel journalists than culture-specific journalists were interested. With the radio we discovered the difficulty that the they usually announce events that are going to happen the same day – whilst our interest was to inform people with weeks in advance, so they could book their holidays accordinlgy.
Dispite the tight planning time we have reached the important goal: 8 bookings in the hotel between 2 and 7 nights, exclusively for Rossini. Those guests – bless them spontaneous travellers – had found out about the Rossini Week in different ways: word of mouth, the Berlin newspaper, contacts through the Rossini Society. Rossini guests lived through a great experience, not only participating in all musical events, but also eating Rossini-inspired dishes, finding Rossini-inspiration-notes on the breakfast table, dining with Alessandro Marangoni etc. Much appreciated was the familiar atmosphere.
Audience numbers were not the best eventhough the programm was pblished widely. We explain this in different ways. A hotel is not associated with cultural events of quality and people are not used to pay tickets in a hotel. Also times for the events were not programmed well. The concerts in the Kunsthalle and Grand Hotel on the weekend were better visited, which we believe to be connected to the above points as well as due to the fact that they happened on the week end. (This just as a short summary of many thoughs)
The audience should be introduces to Rossinis „sins of old age“ with a deifferent topic for each day. Therefore, many of the concerts were also moderated or complemented through readings. There was also a Rossini programme for kids, which was well received. The restaurant had adapted their ordinary menue to Rossini-inspired dishes throughout the week. A lecture by the president of the German Rossini Society provided further insights into the „long silence“ of the composer of many famous operas.
Alessandro Marangoni plays “Memento Homo” by Gioachino Rossini
Feedback and audience satifaction
The audience was extremely satisfied with the programmes. Despite the point „schedule“ everything was voted as „very good“ (1) or „good“ (2) with resulting average votes of 1,5 in the worst case. This regards musical quality, moderation, atmosphere and space, ticketing etc. All people who compiled questionnaires would recommend the events to their friends. Some people had visited more then one of the concerts.
We are thankful to the cooperation partners which made it possible for the first Rossini Week to become a success. Particularly the collaboration of locals gave the programme a very special tourch. The participation of Ursula Zerbe, guest of the Schweriner Hof every year, made a real interweaving of tourism and local life within the culutral event possible. Two young girls from Bad Doberan had studied an incredible coreography for one of the compositions and Petra Lengler from the „Theater Sansibar“ had given her voice to 3 of the readings. Jamila Raimbecova from the Rostock Theatre gave a star appearance, enchanging with her clear voice.
How can we attract more audiences for Rossinis „sins of old age“ in the future?
Secret tipps such as this collection of compositions are exciting – but how to communicate them to a wider public? The dilemma is that most opera fans are not interested in Rossini´s chamber music – and lovers of chamber music associate Rossini with nothing else but opera!
Some are obvious steps to take to act on this:
- communicate more intensly to the lovers of chamber music
- include an opera evening in the programme of the Rossini Week in order to catch also the Rossini opera lovers
- well-planned involvement of locals in the programme
- close collaboration with local schools AND the conservatory for music and theatre in Rostock.
We will still be reflecting a lot about all future developments – and we are happy for any input and ideas.
Rossini was a fascinating person who needs to be represented in all his diversity.