Last week I posted a piece about my recent visit to the Royal Opera House to see a rather passé production of Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’. During the interval I recalled that last year my father and I had visited the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti in Milan. Also known as Casa Verdi, this is a home for retired opera singers and musicians, and it was set up by Verdi in 1896. It is also the place where both Verdi and his wife, the opera soprano Giuseppina, are buried.
Verdi commissioned this building to be a home for those musical people who, one way or another, had fallen on hard times during their latter years, often occurring when they could no longer perform for a living.
The home was open to residents on 10th October 1902 a couple of years after Verdi’s death and it was supported by bequeathed funds from the royalties received from Verdi’s operas. However, these royalties expired in the 1950s and the home is run now on income from Verdi’s property investments, donations and contributions from the residents. The residents, or guests, as Verdi preferred them to be known, each have their own room and some have views that overlook the inner courtyard, pictured above in the top photograph. The windows are those in the wings to the left and right side of the central complex which contains the communal rooms.
A recent (3 January 2018) social piece in the Financial Times written by Hannah Roberts interviews one of the guests, the 95 year old opera singer, Luisa Mandelli. From the piece I read that the current average age of guests is 89 years old. And, when I visited, we were shown the small but elegant concert hall where the guests could get together either to perform, or to listen to music, and then share musical discussions.
For the guests at Casa Verdi keeping up with their musical interests is seen as very important for maintaining robust cognitive abilities as well as offering a good quality of life. Verdi is recorded as saying that he thought his fame would only last about 30 years after his death. How wrong he was and it isn’t just his wonderful music, but also his thoughtful philanthropy that keeps his memory alive.
6 thoughts on “Verdi: A Philanthropic Maestro”
I love this. What a kind thing for Verdi to do, and what a lovely place. I immediately thought of the Motion Picture and Television community in Los Angeles, does kind of the same thing. I especially love the idea that seems to be in both these places, that the pull of music/acting or any kind of art does not go away because you are old, and instead, keeps you going. Thank you for this post.
Thanks for the link – I had no idea that Hollywood did a similar thing. I agree with you and creativity should be encouraged how ever old you are. It’s an important part of a person’s existence especially when they are old.
What a wonderful place. I’d never heard of it, so thanks for visiting and being prompted to report on this fascinating home. I wonder what living there is like? What are the topics of conversation among the residents?
I don’t have any Italian so although we did encounter some chatter (to my shame) I couldn’t understand what was being said. However, we did hear some distant music coming from a practice room. If I had to live in Residential Care I can’t image a better place, very special. Sadly, I can’t sing for toffee!
What a wonderful act. I’d not heard of this. It looks well designed too, for its era.
Extremely generous and forward thinking. Bravo Verdi!