Verdi in Sant’Agata / Busseto
The series about historical places of opera art. Get to know exciting excursion and travel ideas for opera lovers. This time: Verdi in Sant’Agata, Busseto and Le Roncole
Overview of all destinations in google maps:
Verdi in Le Roncole, Busseto and Sant'Agata
Verdi grew up in the hamlet of Le Roncole outside Busseto. He was educated in Busseto, where he was encouraged at an early age by his future father-in-law, Barezzi.
He went to school in Busseto and stayed there for a few years because he was rejected at the Milan Conservatory. At the age of 23 he married the daughter of his patron Antonio Barezzi and at 25 he left his native land with his wife Margherita, but only 2 years later disaster struck him when illness and childbirth took his wife and two small children. After a huge crisis Verdi could regain his composure with the triumphant success of nand at the age of 32 was able to buy a beautiful residence in Busseto (the Palazzo Orlando in today’s Via Roma), but the people of Busseto did not approve of his partner Giuseppina Strepponi at all and thus drove the maestro first to Paris and later to Sant’ Agata.
After a huge crisis Verdi could regain his composure with the triumphant success of Nabucco and at the age of 32 was able to buy a beautiful residence in Busseto (the Palazzo Orlando in today’s Via Roma), but the people of Busseto did not approve of his partner Giuseppina Strepponi at all and thus drove the maestro first to Paris and later to Sant’ Agata where he spent the rest of his life.
Destination Villa Verdi / Sant’Agata
A few kilometers outside Bussetto lies the stately Sant’Agata estate, originally a farm, converted by Verdi into a residence. He bought the land in 1848 and gradually extended it, with the aim of retiring there at the age of 60. He lived there from 1851 until the end of his life in 1901 with his wife Giuseppina and composed many of his works. He was protected there from the hostility of his compatriots (see the excursus on Traviata below) and appreciated life as a “peasant,” as he called himself.
Villa Verdi is an outstanding place to visit, which, although a museum, has been left as Verdi had left it in his will. It is cared for by his descendants and impresses with a wide variety of exhibits, ranging from the fortepiano to the carriage stable and the death mask. A beautiful park invites you to take a walk.
It is possible that the museum is closed for renovation when you read these lines. Please check before visiting.
Villa Verdi in Sant’Agata:
Destination birthplace in Le Roncole
When you visit the parental home Verdi, you notice the stately size of the house, in no way gives the impression of a mouse-poor family. The house is carefully renovated and left in somewhat original condition.
Destination Museo Casa Barezzi
Verdi’s beloved patron and father of his first wife was a well-off man. His house in Busseto has been made into an interesting museum and gives a great insight into the upscale country life of his time and displays many memorabilia such as pianos etc. Verdi’s.
Destination Teatro Verdi
The neat little theater (with 300 seats) was built during Verdi’s lifetime. Verdi donated 10,000 lire out of courtesy, but never entered the theater out of resentment against the people of Busseto (see excursus below on Traviata). Performances are rather rare, Toscanini even conducted here in honor of Verdi.
Book a guided tour in advance to see the beautiful theater.
Destination Museo Verdi
Another good museum about Verdi. In the rooms the individual operas of Verdi are presented with theater posters, costumes, etc.
Destination Museo Renata Tebaldi
The great Italian singer of the post-war years had a large following. Her greatest roles were from operas by Puccini, Verdi and other Italian composers. Her competition with Maria Callas was nurtured by the media and she fought with her American-Greek rival for supremacy at La Scala and the Met. There is a nice anecdote about her to the opera “Adriana Lecouvreur”: Rudolf Bing, the Met director of the sixties hated this opera. Renata Tebaldi, his star soprano with the pretty dimples on her face, was adamant about singing Adriana and threatened never to perform at the Met again if she couldn’t sing it. Bing gave in and commented later: «Renata looked innocent, but her dimples are made of iron».
A sample of her skills you can find her in the link with an excerpt from La forza del destino. In the role of Leonora and the “pace, pace” Renata Tebaldi was possibly unrivalled. Her angelic piano turns this aria into a monument and is one of the most beautiful recordings of this great singer.
«Pace, pace» aus «La forza del destino» gesungen von Renata Tebaldi :
She grew up in Pesaro and the pretty museum about her artistic life was launched in 2014.
Musical background: Verdi’s autobiographical aspect of «La Traviata»
The story of «Traviata» is based on the novel “The Lady of the Camellias” by Alexandre Dumas. As a young man, Dumas himself lived together with Marie Duplessis, a well-known demimondaine. She died at the age of 25 of consumption and Dumas took her as a model for the protagonist of the novel. When Verdi first came into contact with Dumas’ novel, he was deeply moved. It reminded him of his own situation with his partner Giuseppina Strepponi. When he moved in with Giuseppina many years after the death of his wife, Giuseppina was already 32 years old and a woman “with a past”. She was not a courtesan, but in addition to her professional life as an opera singer she had three pregnancies with different men. Verdi and Strepponi were harassed by the distinguished society in Paris and retreated to Verdi’s homeland. In Busseto the couple met with open resistance from the small-town population. It was particularly painful for Verdi that his former patron and benefactor Barezzi openly opposed him. It is quite possible that Verdi created a portrait of Barezzi with the role of Germont (which he had upgraded in comparison to Dumas plot). Two years later the two moved on to Sant’Agata in the countryside. There the compositional history of “Traviata” began.
In this passage we hear Violetta’s heartrending renunciation. Her “Conosca il sacrifizio” is accompanied by the painful song of the English horn. For the first time in this duet, one senses sincerity in the voice of Germont, who begins to sense the greatness of Violetta and, moved, takes leave of her.
Conosca il sacrifizio … Amami aus «La Traviata» :