Verdi Festival in Parma
Guiseppe Verdi is one of few artists whose genius was recognised during their lifetime. That perhaps says all you need to know about the composer’s enduring appeal; whereas he himself discussed the burdens of such fame:
“Oh blessed a thousand times the peasant who is born, eats and dies without anybody bothering about his affairs.”
Join us as we chart the life of the artist and his emerging creative vision. We trace his ascent from humble beginnings right through to his position as a cultural icon of ‘new Italy’. Perhaps it's his versatility that has enchanted us for so long. As we will see, his creative touch stretches far beyond opera, to later religious works and chamber music.
At his death 200,000 bystanders lined the streets of Milan to bid farewell to their hero. We prefer to celebrate his life musically – why don’t you join us?
We fly from London to Milan, and transfer to our hotel in Parma. We view the Monument to Verdi on our way to dinner at the Corale Verdi where we enjoy a private concert from the Verdi singers.
We travel to Roncole Verdi to visit Verdi’s birthplace, stopping at the house where he was born. We continue to Busseto to see the Casa Barezzi, where Verdi met his first wife Margherita and then the Teatro Verdi, a 19th century opera house dedicated to the composer. We attend Verdi’s Requiem at the Teatro Regio in Parma tonight.
We cross the Parma river to visit the Casa Toscanini, the house where the conductor Arturo Toscanini was born. We enjoy a private recital by Icelandic soprano Halla Margret, before returning to our hotel.
We attend Verdi’s Jerusalem this afternoon at the Teatro Regio.
Our day begins at the Casa del Suono, an unusual museum dedicated to sound before our appointment at the Conservatoire Arrigo Boito with its collection of rare period instruments.
Some free time before travelling to Busseto to attend Verdi’s La Traviata in the Teatro Verdi tonight.
Behind the Scenes
We visit the 17th century Farnese theatre and then tour the Teatro Regio to get an exclusive view behind the scenes. Enjoy some free time in Parma this afternoon.
We attend an Opera Gala performance tonight at the Teatro Regio.
We visit the Villa Pallavicino, a Renaissance palace housing a museum dedicated to the life and works of Verdi before a visit to his country home, Villa Sant’ Agata. After lunch we return to the airport for our flights home.
We arrive in Milan and transfer to Parma, enjoying welcome drinks at our stylish hotel, the four-star Maria Luigia. Later we take a gentle walk to the venue for an evening concert, Corale Verdi, pausing en route to view the magnificent monument erected to the composer at Piazza Pilotta.
We dine at Corale Verdi, before enjoying our concert, and a special private meeting with the masterful Corale Verdi Singers.
This morning we visit the humble Roncole Verdi, birthplace of the great composer in October 1813. At the gorgeous Church of San Michele Arcangelo, we see where the maestro was baptised, as well as the organ he learnt to play on in his youth.
Our next stop is Casa Barezzi, a museum in the centre of Busseto. It was here that Verdi’s first ever concert took place – and where he met his first wife, Margherita. The museum is filled with valuable memorabilia, including recordings, papers and original furniture dating from Verdi’s day.
We lunch at the intimate local restaurant Salsamenteria, before paying an afternoon visit to the Renata Tebaldi Museum, a delightful homage to one of the world’s best-loved 20th-century sopranos.
We continue to Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, a small opera house dedicated to the composer, which he once helped to fund, despite its meeting his intense disapproval…! Our engaging day ends with a sumptuous buffet dinner at our hotel.
After breakfast, we walk through the heart of the city on our way across the river Parma to Casa Toscanini where, in 1867, the acclaimed conductor Arturo Toscanini was born. A museum since 1967, the exhibits within this beautiful building trace his illustrious career.
We indulge in a generous buffet lunch before going on to meet the Icelandic soprano, Halla Margrét, who treats us to an enchanting private recital. The rest of this afternoon is free for us to explore the area at our leisure, before coming together for an evening meal at the Teatro Regio, a historic venue that has long enjoyed close links with Verdi himself.
We begin our fourth day with guided tours of Casa della Musica, Museo dell’Opera, and Casa del Suono, a trio of buildings devoted to the history and evolution of music.
Our appetites now harmoniously whetted, we walk on to Piazza Garibaldi, an ancient square which once contained a Roman forum. We continue to the expansive Conservatorio di Parma, for an exclusive private recital and a chance to view its impressive collection of instruments.
Breaking for lunch at the prestigious Trattoria Corrieri, we enjoy a second afternoon of free time to wander and unwind at our own pace.
In the evening we dine at Caffé Centrale in Busseto, a charming restaurant on the corner of Piazza Verdi.
This morning we make our way to the mesmerising Teatro Farnese, a Baroque-style theatre constructed almost entirely out of wood, for a tour of its interiors and on-site museum.
It is then time for a backstage tour of Teatro Regio. Founded in 1821, the theatre prides itself on staging every one of Verdi’s creations, and plays a prominent role in the annual festival.
We lunch at the innovative Borgo 20 bistro, before dispersing for more free time in Parma. This evening we reconvene for an elegant buffet at Gran Caffé del Teatro – a fittingly grand way to mark our last night together as a group.
Our final morning starts in the Verdi Museum at Villa Pallavicino, a fine Renaissance building devoted to the maestro, with displays depicting original theatrical sets, scores published by Casa Ricordi, and immersive guides to Verdi’s full works.
We continue on to Villa Sant’Agata. Commissioned by the composer in 1848, the villa originally housed his parents, but became his own home just three years later, until his death in 1901. Today its well-preserved rooms offer a tantalising glimpse of Verdi’s private life, containing items from the hotel room in Milan where Verdi died, as well as his beloved Fritz piano.
After stopping for lunch, we transfer to the airport for our return flight home.*
*Please note: this itinerary is dependent on the festival's opera schedule and, as such, is subject to change.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
• Weather in October is generally still pleasantly warm with temperatures averaging 15 – 20°C during the day but storms, even if not local, can change this overnight. Although you are unlikely to need winter clothing you may wish to pack a jacket and shoes suitable for cooler weather.
• There will be quite a lot of walking around Parma although no more than about 20 minutes at a time. The hotel is about 15 minutes away from the opera house and the city centre. There are no lifts to the upper levels at the Verdi Museum in Busseto.
• There is no particular requirement regarding a dress code to any of the performances at the Regio and Verdi theatres but you may feel more comfortable with smart casual clothing.
• Because of the performance timings, most dinners will be in buffet form at 18:30.
• Parma is particularly renowned for its food and has many shops selling high-quality products. Cured meats and cheese can be brought back to the UK and some shops may be able to offer vacuum packaging.
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