Big history & big operas: Festival Verdi 2016 Teatro Farnese. Photo: Roberto Ricci.

Big history & big operas: Festival Verdi 2016

Jenna Simeonov

From October 1-30, the Festival Verdi takes over theatres in Parma and Busseto for their annual celebration of Giuseppe Verdi. On the performance line-up for 2016 are Il trovatore, Giovanna d’Arco, I masdanieri and Don Carlo; plus, the month is filled with gala concerts, recitals, and community building programs, like Emozioni Under 30, Il piccolo Verdi, and their Verdi Off series.

Verdi was born in the province of Parma, Italy, near Busseto, and the operas are performed in Parma’s Teatro Regio, and Teatro Farnese. The Farnese is nearly 400 years old, and it boasts its status as the first permanent proscenium arch theatre in the world.

The Teatro Regio is a theatre with which Verdi had a long relationship; in fact, between 1813-1951, the theatre presented only Verdi’s operas, marking the centennial of his birth, and the 50th anniversary of his death. Verdi’s 203rd birthday falls during the 2016 Festival.

We spoke with Anna Maria Meo, General Manager of the Festival, about this year’s celebration of Giuseppe and his operas.

How is the Festival celebrating the life of Verdi this year?

Anna Maria Meo: This year’s edition of Festival Verdi steps boldly into the international arena of annual classical music festivals with new commissions, new productions and world premieres, all taking place in historically significant venues. Highlights include fully-staged new productions of Don Carlo and Il Trovatore, presented in Parma’s opulent Teatro Regio; I masnadieri presented in the intimate Teatro Verdi in Busseto on Verdi’s actual birthday, October 10; and a new production of Giovanna d’Arco presented in the stunning Teatro Farnese.

An important new element this year for Festival Verdi is a focus on emerging performers to express their interpretations and adaptions. We’ve simultaneously created a month-long celebration of classic and new approaches to Verdi’s music and I look forward to experiencing how all of these ideas co-exist and influence each other.

What highlights do you most look forward to?

AMM: One of the highlights will be Giovanna d’Arco, directed by Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway at Teatro Farnese. Staging this production is a great challenge and great opportunity. Teatro Farnese is now a National Cultural Heritage Site so to stage any public performance requires being very attentive to the interior structure of the building. The opportunity to work with a creative team from disciplines other than opera introduces 21st-century staging technologies in a majestic Baroque theatre. Fascinating possibilities!

The view from the stage of Teatro Regio di Parma. Photo: Luca Fregoso.

Can you tell us about some of the outreach/educational events, like Emozioni Under 30, and Making Opera Viral?

AMM: This year we inaugurate “Verdi Off,” a series that will enrich and enhance the main program of the Festival with events that will engage the entire city. People will experience music and live performances in unexpected locations – private homes, public squares, shops, a hospital, the local jail, a sports stadium – all to demonstrate how interwoven the music is with our lives. Many of these new events are created with the younger generation in mind, and thanks to the use of new technologies the Festival can become viral.

Do you have a favourite opera of Verdi’s?

AMM: This is a very unfair question! In Parma, we are Verdi lovers, loyal supporters and enthusiasts. Individually and privately we might hold a particular Verdi opera close to our hearts but collectively and publically, it is all Verdi, all the time and all magnificent.

Teatro Giuseppe Verdi di Busseto. Photo: Barone.

Click here to find out what’s on during Festival Verdi 2016.


Unlike other sites, we're keeping Schmopera ad-free. We want to keep our site clean and our opinions our own. Support us for as little as $1.00 per month.