Built in 1858 in the historic centre of Panicale, Teatro Cesare Caporali holds the honour for being Italy’s second smallest theatre, originally built with twelve box seats built for the twelve most influential families of Panicale. With an elegant and richly decorated interior, the Teatro Cesare Caporali now hosts many events during the year, including the annual Pan Opera Festival for which we had tickets to 'Disasters at the Opera 2.0', a one-act lyric opera that narrates the 'memorable disasters' in the history of opera. The show peeks behind the scenes where two 'conductors', tenors Antonio Feltracco and Filippo Pina Castiglioni, discuss their long careers in the most prestigious theatres of the world and share an endless list of disasters that occurred, in between which famous arias were performed by soprano Tullia Maria Mancinelli, mezzo-soprano Veronica Filippi, and baritone Cuneyt Unsal. With music by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Bizet and Puccini, the production was enormously entertaining, but performed in rapid fire Italian, it was a real challenge to follow! Being opening night, the audience was invited to join the artists for a glass of prosecco and homemade biscotti after the show outside the theatre. Being a glorious warm evening, it was very nice indeed.
Enjoying an apertivo before the opera on Piazza Umberto in Panicale
Negroni made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari,
garnished with orange peel
Glass of acqua frizzante over ice with lemon
One enormous arancine al ragù
Teatro Caporali is just through the arch from Piazza Umberto on via Cesare Caporali
The Teatro Cesare Caporali was built in 1858
Arriving for opening night of the 'Disasters at the Opera 2.0',
a one-act lyric opera narrating the 'memorable disasters' in the history of opera
Teatro Caporali holds the honour for being Italy’s second smallest theatre
The theatre was originally built with twelve box seats built for the twelve
most influential families of Panicale
Sitting in one of the boxes, we had great seats for the opera
The illustrious cast of 'I Disastri all'Opera 2.0'
Founder of the Pan Opera Festival in Panicale, Virgilio Bianconi
Arancine al ragù
3 tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 small yellow onion, minced
1⁄2 small carrot, minced
1⁄2 stalk celery, minced
3 oz ground beef
3 oz ground pork
1 cup passata or tomato sauce
2 tsp tomato paste
1 small red onion, minced
1 1⁄2 cups arborio rice
1⁄4 tsp crushed saffron
2 tbsp grated parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄4 cup flour
2 large eggs
2 cups bread crumbs
Canola oil, for frying
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add beef and pork and cook, stirring often, until browned, 10–12 minutes. Stir in the passata and tomato paste, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 45–50 minutes. Transfer the meat filling to a bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until chilled.
Heat the remaining oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add red onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Stir in the saffron and 1 1⁄2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from the heat, then let sit for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Spread the rice out on a plate and let cool. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, eggs, and 1⁄2 cup water in a shallow bowl until smooth. Place bread crumbs in another bowl and set both aside.
To assemble, place 1 heaping tablespoon of rice in the palm of your hand and flatten into a disk. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled meat filling in centre of the rice disk and form the rice around the filling to encase it completely, pressing gently to form an elongated ball. Roll the arancini in batter and then in bread crumbs until evenly coated. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining rice, meat mixture, batter, and bread crumbs. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
Pour oil into a 6-quart Dutch oven to a depth of 2-inches and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 360°F. Working in batches, add rice balls to the oil and fry until they are golden and heated through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rice balls to paper towels. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.