SANT’AGATA 〓 Italian government acquires Verdi’s former residence at risk of auction, and the opera world joins forces in a charity campaign.


The Italian government is acquiring the former residence in Sant’Agata where composer Giuseppe Verdi lived for about 50 years. Gennaro Sangiuliano, Minister of Culture, announced the acquisition to the Chamber of Deputies last week.

The former residence had operated as a museum until last year, when it was closed over an inheritance dispute and was in danger of being auctioned off.

Sant’Agata is a small town near Parma in northern Italy, in the middle of the triangle connecting Piacenza and Cremona. The residence was acquired by Verdi in 1848, where he resided from 1851 until his death in 1901. Originally earned for his parents, he moved there with his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi, after his mother’s death.

After the move, Verdi added two new buildings of his own design on either side of the main building, a greenhouse, a chapel, and a carriage house, as well as a lemon grove, a pond, and plantings including magnolia flowers, a favorite of Giuseppina’s.

From here, “La Traviata” and “Il Trovatore,” “La Forza del Destino,” “Don Carlo,” “Aida,” and “Falstaff” were all produced.

When news of the auction broke, musicians in Italy expressed their concern. Conductor Riccardo Muti told the newspaper, “Verdi is like Dante or Da Vinci, and it is unthinkable that his residence should fall into private hands. The residence is a cultural sanctuary,” he complained.

To summarize the reports in Italy, the Ministry of Culture, in order to secure acquisition funds, launched a “Viva! Verdi” campaign, to which 14 organizations, including Teatro alla Scala, will have responded by holding charity performances and contributing the proceeds to a “fund.

The campaign will open with “Aida” at the Arena di Verona in February and conclude with “Macbeth” at La Scala in June.

Photo:Villa Verdi

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