An Italian Festival Presents Verdi on His Own Turf

Oct 10, 2018 691

BY: George Loomis

The Festival Verdi Parma has led a sleepy existence here for most of its 18 years. But now it demands attention. Where else in four days can you see four Verdi operas so rare the most popular one is “Attila”? Operating as part of the Teatro Regio di Parma, the festival — situated in the heart of the northern Italian region where Verdi grew up and returned to build a villa after attaining fame and fortune — appeals to connoisseurs without being esoteric. And, in a triumph for the little guy (Parma is far down on the rank of Italian cities by population), it was named this year’s best festival by the International Opera Awards.

Two of this year’s productions, “Le Trouvère” and the original version of “Macbeth,” are rarely performed incarnations of well-known works. Even “Un Giorno di Regno,” Verdi’s comic opera once debunked as an embarrassment for the composer of “Falstaff,” is not the obscurity it once was. Anna Maria Meo, the Teatro Regio’s general director since 2015 and the primary force behind the festival’s ascent, said Parma has an advantage in that smaller towns, like Bayreuth in Germany and Salzburg in Austria, are good places for major festivals.

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