Carmen & Fernand Cortez (Luisi; Pretti) in Florence; Nabucco, Aida, Luisa Miller and I due Foscari in Parma; Giulio Cesare and Quartett in Milan.
Our annual pilgrimage to the Verdi Festival in Parma is a trip to the soul of Italy, and also to the soul of Italian opera. In 2019, we enjoy a wide array of operatic styles in Parma, Florence and Milan, with four Verdi masterworks at the core of the tour.
In Florence, we hear hear Bizet’s timeless Carmen, and Spontini’s rarely-performed Fernand Cortez under the baton of Fabio Luisi, the new Music Director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. We also partake in some of the finest art, cuisine and wine to be had anywhere. Our hotel is the charming and perfectly-located L’Orologio.
In Parma, we hear four superb Verdi works that span a 30-year period of matchless creative genius: Nabucco (1842), I due Foscari (1844), Luisa Miller (1849) and Aida (1871). There are definitely many stranieri at the performances in Parma’s glorious Teatro Regio and Busseto’s miraculously tiny Teatro Verdi, but there are also locals, and although the peanut gallery at La Scala has the reputation, the Parmagiani are a tougher crowd. Yes, they can crush the spirit of a singer not yet ready for the big stage, but they can also warmly reward the deserving. Witnessing a performance at Teatro Regio is the ultimate Verdi experience—an orchestra and conductor with Verdi in their blood, singers born to sing the maestro’s lines, and an unforgettable electricity in the auditorium. This is a highlight in our year, every year. Our hotel is the 5-star Grand Hotel de la Ville.
In Milan, the most fashionable (and wealthiest) city in Italy, we attend two performance at opera’s mecca, Teatro alla Scala: Handel’s Giulio Cesare starring the inimitable Cecilia Bartoli, and Luca Francesconi’s 2011 Quartett, featuring original interpreters Allison Cook and Robin Adams. We also enjoy a guided tour of the La Scala museum, which could suffice as a museum of opera itself. In addition, we explore the magnificent Duomo, visit Verdi’s final resting place at the Casa di Riposo and behold Leonardo’s The Last Supper at the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie. Our hotel here is one of our favourites anywhere–the Grand et de Milan, Verdi’s own city home until his death in 1901.