A route dedicated specifically to the musical places where Giuseppe Verdi was born, studied and lived. Verdi’s arias, with their spirited melodies, seem naturally suited to this generous, passionate land. Land in the province of Parma that reveals great
character, and great contrasts too, like the sensations it arouses which the ingenious Verdi managed to convey.
The following pages strive to offer a guide to help readers gain an insight into Verdi: the public figure, his personality, character and passions.
Roncole Verdi, Busseto and Sant’Agata are the so-called “Verdi Places” (Luoghi Verdiani): his birthplace, Villa Pallavicino, Palazzo Orlandi, Palazzo Barezzi, Teatro Verdi and Villa Carrara-Verdi, all paint a picture of the composer’s fervent activity, his joys and his sorrows. This area of the lower Po plain is described as the “Land of Melodrama” (Paese del Melodramma): visitors have the chance to discover the secrets of one of the greatest ever composers of Italian opera music.
The little village of Busseto is where Verdi’s genius first flourished. In Roncole you can visit the Birthplace of the Maestro and the church of San Michele, where he was baptised. In the centre of Busseto, Piazza Verdi offers ancient stores, historical buildings, the 13th century stronghold, now the Town Hall, and the Theatre dedicated to the illustrious musician. The Casa Barezzi Museum (founded by a local supporter of Verdi) reveals a great deal about the musician and here, through a vast array of exhibits that includes signed letters, portraits, documents and posters, visitors can gain a particular insight into Verdi’s musical development and career.
Remaining in Busseto, visitors can move on to the Giuseppe Verdi National Museum which was recently inaugurated and offers a special exhibition dedicated to the Maestro’s great works. The museum is housed in Villa Pallavicino, one of the most magnificent palaces in all of Parma, featuring a chequerboard plan with five independent blocks, reminiscent of the coat of arms of the Lords of Busseto. The 27 works of the “Swan of Busseto” are represented in an exhibition that takes visitors on a historical journey, with reproductions of original Casa Ricordi set designs and reconstructions of 19th century rooms with collections of paintings by Hayez. With superb theatrical lighting and accompanied by the sound of the immortal music of Giuseppe Verdi, visitors follow the highly engaging exhibition journey created by set designer and director, Pier Luigi Pizzi.
3 km from Busseto, just after the Ongina stream, stands Villa Verdi, located in Sant’Agata (Piacenza). This was the Maestro’s home later in his life. Although geographically speaking it is not in the province of Parma, the house has close ties with the places associated with Verdi in Busseto, and is well-preserved with fine furniture and curios. Work on the villa began just after 1848 and continued in various stages until 1880. Until the spring of 1851, it was home to Verdi’s parents, and afterwards the composer himself settled there together with his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi. The Maestro spent the rest of his life there, apart from sojourns in Paris and winters spent in Genoa, and took a great interest in managing the estate.
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