Giuseppe Verdi is an unfamiliar name to most Filipinos. But in the southern European country of Italy, he is a musical icon whose compositions were identified with “freedom and independence,” especially during the Risorgimento or Italian Unification in 1861.
To commemorate 200 years of the great Romantic composer, the Italian Embassy in Manila will mount the Viva Verdi 1813-2013 Bicentennial Gala Concert on December 10 at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo’s Main Theater, featuring a performance of selected opera scenes from his most famous works such as La Forza del Destino, Rigoletto, II trovatore, Nabucco, La traviata, and Aida.
In line with the performance, a collection of poster-size prints of the original copy of Verdi’s works, photographs and other significant memorabilia will also be on exhibit at the CCP Main Theater Lobby.
The Embassy of the Republic of Italy collaborated with the CCP, the Philippine Italian Association and Rustan’s to make the extraordinary event possible, and allow Filipinos an authentic experience of classic Italian arts.
“I want to underline that Italy is very proud to do its job as a friend to the Philippines. This concert signifies the unity and closeness of the two countries, and this will especially be interesting for students to be immersed in the life and works of Verdi,” declared Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno, at a preview of production on November 20 at his Dasmariñas Village residence in Makati City.
The gala concert was preceded by a multimedia traveling exhibition entitled Giuseppe Verdi: the Composer, the Man, the Patriot in Water Dragon Gallery at the Yuchengco Museum in RCBC Plaza, Makati City in November. Highly successful, the exhibit will be mounted once again at the College of Music at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City from December 9 to 20. Its final stop will be at the Conservatory of Music of University of Santo Tomas in España, Manila in January 2014.
Despite the recent calamity in the Visayas, CCP president Dr. Raul Sunico believes that the Viva Verdi concert and exhibit comes at a very opportune time when the country is in need of “healing.”
“We can use music as a healing mechanism in this stage of our survival [after typhoon Yolanda]. There’s what we call ‘arts therapy’ wherein art elements are used for healing to minimize the trauma caused by specific events,” he elaborated.
Featured artists in the gala concert include Italian singers Gian Luca Pasolini, tenor; Alvaro Lozano, baritone; and leading Philippine singers Rachelle Gerodias, Margarita Giannelli, Thea Perez, Nenen Espina, Ronan Ferrer and Andrew Fernando.
Conducting the Manila Symphony Orchestra is Maestro Ruggero Barbieri, with Coro Tomasino, and Ballet Philippines. The concert is directed by Floy Quintos and narrated by Jaime del Mundo.
“In planning this event, I came to know Giuseppe Verdi. He did not accept anything mediocre and will do everything to make sure his presentation is perfect. We also strive for perfection in making this event,” said Rustan’s and Philippine Italian Association president Zenaida Tantoco.
“You can expect everything to be authentically Italian. We’ve used authentic [Italian] costumes and patterned the stage with authentic background,” she added.
What is great about music is the way it evokes feelings and emotions. With Giuseppe Verdi’s works coming to the Philippines, not only will its audience experience Italian culture, but they will also understand how “freedom and independence” was valued through history.
For ticket inquiries, call the CCP Box Office at 832-3704 and Ticketworld at 891-9999.