Residence built by the author of works such as ‘Aida’ is located in Villa Sant’Agata, in the province of Piacenza, in northern Italy
The small door in a lot protected by a long wall does not attract attention at first glance. But it is like a portal to 19th century Italian music, because inside is the house built by Giuseppe Verdiauthor of works such as The Traviata And Aida🇧🇷 It was in Villa Sant’Agata, in the province of Piacenza, in northern Italy, where he composed some of his main works, a few kilometers from Busseto, his hometown. But now the house is at the center of a legal imbroglio involving the heirs of Verdi. The museum has been closed, with no plans to reopen. And the house, as well as the collection it houses, could be the subject of an intervention by the Italian government.
Last Friday, the 18th, the The Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano, said the Italian government intends to buy the property. “Verdi’s house is not only the place where the great composer lived, it is a place of collective national memory, a piece of the life of each of us. The State cannot allow it to deteriorate”, said his undersecretary, Vittorio Sgarbi followed the same line, stating that the Italian state has already decided to buy the house.
But, despite official intentions, the acquisition of the Villa Sant’Agata perhaps it is not an easy task. Before then, we have to wait for the Italian justice to decide on the fate of the building after twenty years of disagreements between the heirs, as well as the collection it houses – documents, personal objects, musical instruments, furniture, original photographs and a series of other memorabilia of a successful career that made Verdi the greatest Italian composer of the 19th centurywhose fame lives on on opera stages around the world.
Verdi was born in 1813 in Busseto, in the province of Parma. At 26 he was already a renowned artist, with his first work, to open, staged at the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. Of humble family, Giuseppe was supported by patrons of his city, such as Antonio Barezzi🇧🇷 married to his daughter, Margherita, and had two children, Virginia Maria, born in 1836, and Icilio Romano, a year later.🇧🇷 But tragedy soon followed: between August 1838 and October 1839 the two children died. Months later, while Verdi was writing A day of reignit would be Margherita’s turn.
The story worthy of a work does not end there. Years later, Verdi and the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi they started a relationship that was soon doomed, in Busseto and also in cities considered more cosmopolitan, such as Milan: in the past, the singer had children without getting married. Verdi reacted vigorously to the criticism, breaking with his first wife’s family and with those who opposed the union. And Villa Sant’Agata, built in 1848, was the home and refuge of lovers for half a century.
Giuseppe and Giuseppina had no children. But they brought to live in Sant’Agatta Maria Filomena, daughter of a cousin of the composer. Her parents had died and the 9-year-old orphan was raised by her two, with whom she lived until the early 20th century.
As the most performed composer in Italy, Verdi amassed a fortune. And, shortly before his death, he left indications on the destination of the money in his will. In 1899 he sponsored the construction of a building in central Milan that would serve as a retirement home for retired singers unable to support themselves.
Casa Verdi would be retained by the copyright of the composer’s works, which established that the operation would begin only after his death, so that no artist would feel obliged to thank him. In the 1960s, when his works entered the public domain, the expense was incorporated by the Italian state and private sponsors. In 1994, the story was narrated in the documentary Tosca’s Kissin Daniel Schmidt🇧🇷 and a new movie, Green housewas made in 2008 by Anna Francescoschini🇧🇷
Villa Sant’Agata, in turn, was left to Maria Filomena (Josephine died in 1897). She married Verdi’s accountant, Alberto Carrara, and, after the composer’s intervention, the Italian government allowed her to incorporate Verdi into her surname, giving rise to the Verdi Carrrara family. The house passed into his possession on condition that it was kept, as well as the gardens of the property, in the state in which they were found, an obligation which would be extended to his heirs.
Maria Filomena and Alberto had two children, Angiolo and Giuseppina. With the death of the parents the house passed to Angiolo and, subsequently, to the eldest son Alberto. He, in turn, had four children: Maria Mercedes, Ludovica, Angiolo and Emanuela. With Alberto’s death in 2001, Angiolo claimed ownership of the house for himself.
Then a legal battle began which, after twenty years, ruled in October of this year that the house belonged equally to the four heirs – and that, if neither party is able to buy the other’s share, it should be sold. According to the Italian press, the Villa has high maintenance costs and needs urgent structural reforms, which the family claims they cannot afford.
Angiolo left Villa Sant’Agatta, where he had lived for 51 years, at the end of October, following the decision of the court, which has not yet officially decided how the transfer will take place. The government hopes, according to Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, to have preference at the time of purchase, which is not yet given as a guarantee: another possibility examined by the court is the open auction.
Led by the tenor Francesco Melì – who was in Brazil at the beginning of November for concerts at the Teatro Municipal de São Paulo -, a series of Italian artists linked to opera created the group unit for greens🇧🇷 Last Monday, 21, they held a concert in Milan to draw attention to the situation of the Villa Sant’Agata🇧🇷
The goal is to put pressure on the Italian government to purchase the property. “I hope the Villa is a museum and a museum for the history of Italy. The Minister of Culture should preserve this place and that’s what I hope. The government said that no one should worry about the preservation of the house. I hope that’s true because politics is always talked about a lot, so we’ll see,” he said in an interview with OperaWire.