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Verdi: Exploring the Italian hometown of a musical genius

July 31, 2013

CNN Travel

After a Wagner overload at the opulent annual festival devoted to the composer in Bayreuth, Germany, it was good to come to Busseto, Italy, for a little Verdi appreciation.

In the year celebrating the 200th birthday of both musical geniuses, it seemed fitting to visit these two towns intimately associated with them.

It turned out, however, that the contrast between Bayreuth and Busseto couldn’t have been more striking.

Bayreuth was the baroque court of a minor German prince, the Margrave of Bayreuth, and still feels like it.

Little Busseto is a market town with one main street and a square.

Whereas Wagner came to Bayreuth at the peak of his fame to build an opera house in his own honor, Verdi came to Busseto as a talented but penniless boy.

The Italian composer had walked there from nearby Le Roncole, the village of his birth, because a local music lover had a piano that Verdi had been invited to play.

 

Old map, BussetoBusseto as it appeared in Verdi’s day. Aside from some urban sprawl, the town has changed little.

Renaissance revisited

Apart from some urban sprawl on its outskirts, Busseto today looks remarkably the same as when Giuseppe Verdi arrived in 1824.

Its low defensive walls and gates are gone, but its streets follow the same Renaissance grid.

There are some big houses and even a palazzo or two, but these are discreetly hidden behind colonnades that line Via Roma, the main street.

The only ostentatiously impressive building is the 16th-century Palazzo Pallavincino, with its moat and baroque gatehouse, lying halfway between the railway station and the town proper.

The ancient family of Pallavincino held the old castle in Busseto (it now contains an opera house) but in the 18th century they moved out here, to moated splendor beyond the defensive walls.

Whether its former occupants would have appreciated the irony is uncertain, but the mighty Pallavincinos’ palace is now a museum (Via Ferdinando Provesi 35; + 39 0524 930 039) devoted to Verdi, an innkeeper’s son.

Halfway along Via Roma on the stands Palazzo Orlandi, where Verdi composed his opera “Rigoletto.” A big sign on the doors reads “Vendesi.” (For sale)

Palazzo OrlandiPalazzo Orlandi, where Verdi composed “Rigoletto;” locals say it’s falling apart.The locals lament that you can’t even go in to look around; some claim it’s falling apart.

Given that Verdi came back to live here after the success of his breakthrough opera “Nabucco,” it’s a shame not more is made of the house.

On the town square, it’s a different story. Casa Barezzi is where the young Verdi came to play music.

Today his piano overlooks Piazza Verdi.

It was here that the lanky, dark-haired 17-year-old gave his first public performance, in 1830.

Antonio Barezzi, a wealthy merchant, not only was Verdi’s first patron but also soon became his father-in-law when his daughter fell in love with the young musician.

Today just the main salon of Casa Barezzi (Via Roma 119; ‪+39 0524 931 117) has been restored by the “Amici di Verdi.” I walked up steps to the first floor to pay the €2 entry fee.

The salon is lofty and spacious for such a small town. Had the adolescent Verdi ever seen anything as grand?

The adjoining rooms are taken up with display cases full of drawings, paintings and photographs of Verdi. There’s a fascinating display of portraits of nearly every singer who played a major operatic Verdi role.

Another section commemorates conductors who have performed at Busseto’s Teatro Verdi (‪Piazza Giuseppe Verdi 10; ‪+39 0524 92487) with the batons they’ve donated. Placido Domingo has pride of place.

Theater of honor

In 1868, to honor the man they were calling the “Swan of Busseto,” the people of his hometown didn’t just rename their theater after Verdi, they tore it apart and rebuilt it in a much more opulent style, with a royal box, smoking room and private salon where sopranos could serenade affluent gentlemen from a high balcony.

A mythological ceiling was painted in the auditorium with a cherub holding up the word “Verdi” to the Muse of Music.

Verdi was said to have been furious when he heard that the building he had loved was being destroyed in his name, but in the end he gave money to help complete the project.

RigolettoMask of genius … a production of Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto,” a story of love, revenge and sacrifice.The auditorium is a lovely, delicate red and white structure of boxes on three tiers.

Franco Zeffirelli staged “Aida” here in 2001 to mark the centenary of Verdi’s death.  

The production is still talked about in the town because of the way Zeffirelli transcended the restrictions of the tiny stage.

I spent the night in a hotel (next to the old castle) built in 1999 by the great tenor Carlo Bergonzi when he retired to Busseto. He named it “I Due Foscari” (Piazza Carlo Rossi 15; + 39 0524 930039; rooms from €86/$114) after one of the operas that gave Verdi his name. 

Resembling a dark palazzo on the Grand Canal, the hotel is now run by Bergonzi’s son, Marco. There are pictures of Verdi on every wall, even in my bedroom.

There had been high hopes for the bicentenary this autumn, but while I was in Busseto plans were floundering. Italy’s recent economic problems mean there’s no money to mount a suitable production in October.

At the moment it sounds as if only Wagner will be making a big noise in 2013.

Where to stay in Busseto

Hotel Ristorante Bar Bistrot Sole, Piazza Giacomo Matteotti 10; +39 (0) 524  930 011; rooms from €90 ($120)

Agriturismo Il Bosso, Via Traversante Passera 1,  Busseto; +39 (0) 338 5967 038; rooms from €60 ($80)

Where to eat in Busseto

Trattoria Verdi, Viale Pallavicino, 21; +39 (0) 524 91610/91352; modern bar/trattoria

Cafè Pizzosteria Palazzo Orlandi, Via Roma, 60; +39 (0 )524 91523; snack bar beneath palazzo where Verdi lived

Ristorante La Casa Nuova, 59 v. Consolatico Superiore; +39 (0) 524 97817; rural fare

Salumeria Sapori Della Bassa Di Belli Maria Cristin, Via Balestra 2; +39 (0) 524 931133; delicatessen near church where Verdi was married

Salsamenteria Storica Verdiana Baratta, Via Roma 76;  +39 (0) 524 91066; Verdi-themed delicatessen

Source Article from http://travel.cnn.com/verdi-exploring-italian-hometown-musical-genius-855186

44 Responses to “Verdi: Exploring the Italian hometown of a musical genius”

  1. Jeanie Roudebush Says:

    I am having the hardest time finding Lyrics to Giuseppe Verdi’s version of Ave Maria, is it the same as all the other versions, if not whats the difference and where can i find the proper documentation of the lyrics. I dont speek italian so i really dont know.

    Reply

  2. Lola Lockwood Says:

    I have a final exam for my Music class tomorrow morning and I have one question left that I can’t find the answer to. I need 2 things, one personal, the other professional, that make it surprising that Verdi would compose a Requiem. Please help!!!

    Reply

  3. Lizzie Galatioto Says:

    Giuseppe Verdi – “Don Carlos” Grand-opéra in five acts; after Friedrich Schiller’s drama “Don Carlo, Infant von Spanien”. First performance: Paris, Opéra, 11th March 1867. The action takes place in France and Spain around the year 1560

    ACT ONE (taken out in 1883 because it was too similar to the older Lucifer taking the younger Eve away from her intended spouse Adam) Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of Henry II of France, meets Don Carlos, son of the Philip II of Spain. The young prince and princess, who have never seen each other before, know their wedding will seal the peace between the two nations. Don Carlos hid in the woods to see the princess pass. When Elisabeth finally arrives, it is love at first sight. The two tease one another happily about their lot and their forthcoming wedding, when the cannon is fired, indicating that the peace treaty has been signed. Shortly afterwards the page boy runs up and kneels in front of Elisabeth, addressing her as Queen of Spain. He explains that the plans have been changed and she will be married to the older king Philip II instead. Amid the general celebration the two youngsters separate, torn apart.
    Thanks for that Wikipedia link “TurtleFromQuebec” I wonder if this first part was also taken out of Schiller’s drama as well? Verdi revised his opera quite a bit to make it shorter and for audience appeal.
    List is at the Wikipedia article

    Pre-première cuts – Verdi made a number of cuts in 1866, after finishing the opera but before composing the ballet, simply because the work was becoming too long.

    Reply

  4. Abbey Spencer Says:

    Giuseppe Verdi – “Don Carlos” Grand-opéra in five acts; after Friedrich Schiller’s drama “Don Carlo, Infant von Spanien”. First performance: Paris, Opéra, 11th March 1867. The action takes place in France and Spain around the year 1560

    ACT ONE (taken out in 1883 because it was too similar to the older Lucifer taking the younger Eve away from her intended spouse Adam) Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of Henry II of France, meets Don Carlos, son of the Philip II of Spain. The young prince and princess, who have never seen each other before, know their wedding will seal the peace between the two nations. Don Carlos hid in the woods to see the princess pass. When Elisabeth finally arrives, it is love at first sight. The two tease one another happily about their lot and their forthcoming wedding, when the cannon is fired, indicating that the peace treaty has been signed. Shortly afterwards the page boy runs up and kneels in front of Elisabeth, addressing her as Queen of Spain. He explains that the plans have been changed and she will be married to the older king Philip II instead. Amid the general celebration the two youngsters separate, torn apart.
    Thanks for that Wikipedia link “TurtleFromQuebec” I wonder if this first part was also taken out of Schiller’s drama as well? Verdi revised his opera quite a bit to make it shorter and for audience appeal.
    List is at the Wikipedia article

    Pre-première cuts – Verdi made a number of cuts in 1866, after finishing the opera but before composing the ballet, simply because the work was becoming too long.

    Reply

  5. Lola Lockwood Says:

    I’m a violinist and a big classical music fan, but my “listening repertoire” mainly includes things such as concertos, symphonies, and some solo instrumental works. I recently decided to try to familiarize myself with some opera and other vocal works. Does anyone have any suggestions for music to start off with?

    Thanks!

    Reply

  6. Alejandra Fleishman Says:

    I really want to learn how to play this piece, but I can’t seem to find it. It was written by Giuseppe Verdi. Just in case you are not familiar with it, here is a link.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGvtByNnwOc

    It’s the music in the background. Thanks for the help.

    Reply

  7. Noemi Madero Says:

    I have a final exam for my Music class tomorrow morning and I have one question left that I can’t find the answer to. I need 2 things, one personal, the other professional, that make it surprising that Verdi would compose a Requiem. Please help!!!

    Reply

  8. Janet Somerville Says:

    I just discovered the i love opera and classical music but im trying to find more singers. i would like to listen to someone that sounds like Giuseppe Verdi but i dont know any to look for. any suggestions?

    Reply

  9. Maricela Rothrock Says:

    I am having the hardest time finding Lyrics to Giuseppe Verdi’s version of Ave Maria, is it the same as all the other versions, if not whats the difference and where can i find the proper documentation of the lyrics. I dont speek italian so i really dont know.

    Reply

  10. Noemi Madero Says:

    I am having the hardest time finding Lyrics to Giuseppe Verdi’s version of Ave Maria, is it the same as all the other versions, if not whats the difference and where can i find the proper documentation of the lyrics. I dont speek italian so i really dont know.

    Reply

  11. Stella Sotelo Says:

    I have just started using the WordPress CMS. I noticed that some themes display the featured image both, on the front page, and above the content of the post.

    The theme I am using (Catch Box) does not display the featured image above the post content on the single post page.

    I really need this functionality, can anyone help?

    Reply

  12. Heidi Cabrera Says:

    I believe that this sentence is correct but I’m not 100% sure. Please help!
    Note: The parts if the sentence in brackets are the only parts I can choose from to be incorrect.

    Sentence:

    In [the encyclopedia article] I consulted, [it said that] the opera composers Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi [were born] in the [same year: 1813].

    Reply

  13. Lola Lockwood Says:

    Im writing a story about a boy related to a popular Italian composer. Ive done works by all of these, and i would like to use one of them. Which one should I use?
    Alessandro Scarlatti and his sons Domenico Scarlatti & Pietro Filippo Scarlatti-Exultate Deo
    Giuseppe Verdi-Va, Pensiero
    Giovanni Battista Bononcini-per la gloria d’adorarvi

    Reply

  14. Monique Spalding Says:

    I am having the hardest time finding Lyrics to Giuseppe Verdi’s version of Ave Maria, is it the same as all the other versions, if not whats the difference and where can i find the proper documentation of the lyrics. I dont speek italian so i really dont know.

    Reply

  15. Maggie Saucier Says:

    For my opera class i have to find interesting facts about this conductor.
    All i’ve found out everywhere i went was when we was born and died and about his wives and thats about it. I need interesting factssss! helllp!

    Reply

  16. Kelli Shanklin Says:

    For my orchestra class, we must do a biography on a composer. I chose Giuseppe Verdi, what are some amazing things he has done? Thanks so much!
    BONUS QUESTION: What is one dollar in 1800 equivalent to today? (I think it’s 5 dollars but I’m not sure…)

    Reply

  17. Elyn Patchman Says:

    Does a feature of an organism that is currently used for a certain function mean that the feature evolved for that purpose? How can you tell if a feature of an organism or taxon is an adaptation?

    Reply

  18. Patsy Herring Says:

    I would love if you could include any information you know about his beliefs on the independence of Italy and how he showed it through his music. I also would like to know what were some of his defining moments? Why is/was so popular??

    Reply

  19. Kelli Shanklin Says:

    i need help to find audio files of Giuseppe Verdi’s choirs/Nebukadnezar opera songs, like Ali Dorate (or something else). can anyone help?

    Reply

  20. Heidi Cabrera Says:

    We know it was wrote by G.Verdi, but what is the story?

    Reply

  21. Marcie Carew Says:

    i need help to find audio files of Giuseppe Verdi’s choirs/Nebukadnezar opera songs, like Ali Dorate (or something else). can anyone help?

    Reply

  22. Louisa Ellman Says:

    For my opera class i have to find interesting facts about this conductor.
    All i’ve found out everywhere i went was when we was born and died and about his wives and thats about it. I need interesting factssss! helllp!

    Reply

  23. Louisa Ellman Says:

    What are some Dominican Republic Special Features?
    Like volcanoes or ruins etc……..
    Hello anybody

    Reply

  24. Amie Wolken Says:

    For my opera class i have to find interesting facts about this conductor.
    All i’ve found out everywhere i went was when we was born and died and about his wives and thats about it. I need interesting factssss! helllp!

    Reply

  25. Eberhard Says:

    i need help to find audio files of Giuseppe Verdi’s choirs/Nebukadnezar opera songs, like Ali Dorate (or something else). can anyone help?

    Reply

  26. Saundra Jarvie Says:

    Please add detail and list some sources where you got the info from. Please and thank you 😀

    Reply

  27. Loretta Neale Says:

    simply what are featured users and how do you nominate someone?

    Reply

  28. Deborah Holliday Says:

    For my opera class i have to find interesting facts about this conductor.
    All i’ve found out everywhere i went was when we was born and died and about his wives and thats about it. I need interesting factssss! helllp!

    Reply

  29. Loretta Neale Says:

    i need help to find audio files of Giuseppe Verdi’s choirs/Nebukadnezar opera songs, like Ali Dorate (or something else). can anyone help?

    Reply

  30. Elyn Patchman Says:

    What do you think of him as a composer and musician?
    What works of him do you like best?

    Reply

  31. Molly Griego Says:

    i need help to find audio files of Giuseppe Verdi’s choirs/Nebukadnezar opera songs, like Ali Dorate (or something else). can anyone help?

    Reply

  32. Saundra Jarvie Says:

    Is it things like rivers, valleys etc?
    And does anyone know what the geographic features are for the Hunter Valley?

    Reply

  33. Kelli Shanklin Says:

    For my opera class i have to find interesting facts about this conductor.
    All i’ve found out everywhere i went was when we was born and died and about his wives and thats about it. I need interesting factssss! helllp!

    Reply

  34. Melisa Klenke Says:

    I need a list of songs that feature T.I. (not his songs, other artists’ songs that he collaborated on).

    Please and thank you!

    Reply

  35. Kathleen Frias Says:

    Does it have radio? What are some of the features it has. & does it still have the some of the features the original iPhone has?

    Reply

  36. Stella Sotelo Says:

    I psycholinguistic terms (with Hierarchical network model) what does Nested features mean?

    Reply

  37. Serena Frieden Says:

    For my orchestra class, we must do a biography on a composer. I chose Giuseppe Verdi, what are some amazing things he has done? Thanks so much!
    BONUS QUESTION: What is one dollar in 1800 equivalent to today? (I think it’s 5 dollars but I’m not sure…)

    Reply

  38. Kathleen Frias Says:

    feature writing

    Reply

  39. Elinor Tuten Says:

    i need help to find audio files of Giuseppe Verdi’s choirs/Nebukadnezar opera songs, like Ali Dorate (or something else). can anyone help?

    Reply

  40. Harriett Legler Says:

    mention ant 4 features of India’s silicon valley?????

    Reply

  41. Saundra Jarvie Says:

    i need help to find audio files of Giuseppe Verdi’s choirs/Nebukadnezar opera songs, like Ali Dorate (or something else). can anyone help?

    Reply

  42. Cecilia Osburn Says:

    Hey guys I was wondering can anyone tell me which are older, homologous or analogous features? Thanks =]

    Reply

  43. Christy Says:

    For my opera class i have to find interesting facts about this conductor.
    All i’ve found out everywhere i went was when we was born and died and about his wives and thats about it. I need interesting factssss! helllp!

    Reply

  44. Serena Frieden Says:

    mention ant 4 features of India’s silicon valley?????

    Reply

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