Giuseppe Verdi bought Villa Verdi in 1848 and it still belongs to his descendants. He moved in with his future wife, Giuseppina Strepponi, in 1851, and they lived there until her death in the house in 1897. It is located in Sant’Agata in the Province of Piacenza, just 8km from the village of Le Roncole, where he was born in 1813, and midway between the two is Busseto where he lived from 1824. It’s about an hour’s drive south from Milan.
Verdi’s library at Villa Verdi houses his books, correspondence, notes, scores, drafts and sketches.
The most important part of this heritage are his musical sketches, an indispensable resource for scholars who need to have the possibility to consult these primary sources in order to fully understand Verdi’s compositions and his compositional process. This has not been possible until now.
Aside from indispensable documents showing changes to the music and the libretto, there are also comments about the staging, his relationship with the interpreters, the managers and publishers, the censors and his fellow composers.
Seventeen folders contain 2,700 sheets, with 5,300 used faces… a wealth of information. Most are in an excellent state of preservation and the few that have suffered from moisture damage are being restored.
After the General Archives of the State Culture Department had given the go-ahead, the documents we scanned, each one analysed with word recognition and the resulting project is now housed in the State Archives in Parma.
Gino Famiglietti, Director of the Archives, says,
It is a great achievement, not only for the importance to researchers who have been asking for access to these documents for many years, but also because it will give us a fuller understanding of the creative process of a person central to the culture of our country… Giuseppe Verdi.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.