Italy's opera houses to sing together to save Verdi's home

Italy's opera houses to sing together to save Verdi's home

Arts institutions across Italy are coming together to save the famed house of composer Giuseppe Verdi.

Born in the 19th century, Verdi is one of Italy’s greatest writers of opera and is a prominent figure of the Risorgimento movement, which successfully sought the unification of Italy in 1861.

He lived for most of his life in Sant’Agata di Villanova, in the Emilia-Romagna region at a home called ‘Villa Verdi’. The beautiful farmhouse has become a tourist attraction for its close ties to the legacy of the composer. Visitors can tour the rooms of the house Verdi lived in for more than 50 years as he composed classics like ‘La Traviata’, ‘Requiem’ and ‘Falstaff’.

But in recent years, the fate of Villa Verdi came into doubt. Shared between four different Verdi heirs, the siblings have squabbled over what to do with the house for more than 20 years as none could afford to buy out the other’s.

Last year, the Italian Supreme Court ordered the siblings to put the house up for sale. The auction price is expected to start at €30 million, although the Italian state has the right to make an offer before the proceedings begin.

While the Italian state wants to bring Villa Verdi into public ownership, solidifying its place as a national heritage and tourism site, the government has only been able to allocate €20 million for the purchase.

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP or licensors
A picture taken on June 4, 2022 shows the Villa Verdi in Sant'Agata, near Piacenza, northern Italy, the residence where Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi lived for 50 years. - MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP or licensors

To help with the sale, major opera houses across Italy have put together a programme of Verdi concerts to raise funds for the purchase.

Many of Verdi’s most famous operas will be performed across Italy up to the auction this June with proceeds going to help the Italian state.

Verdi built the house in 1848 and he moved in with his second wife Giuseppina Strepponi, in 1851. He lived there until his death in 1901 when it was passed to his cousin, Maria Filomena Verdi who had lived with Verdi and Strepponi as their daughter.

The four Carrara Verdi siblings are the direct descendants of that cousin.