Home News Stars sing under the stars: a global opera festival

Stars sing under the stars: a global opera festival


If anyone has ever questioned what a concert of the Three Tenors is like, then here they are in the Verona Arena, with hundreds of performers belting out the greatest opera hits in unison Friday night can provide a good answer.

With majestic overtures, including crowd favourites such as the William Tell Overture, heart-wrenching arias and a super-sized orchestra and chorus accompanying the A-list soloists, the concert was hailed as a once-in-a-lifetime event in honour of the 19th-century London Opera House. “Opera Singing Practice in Italy” Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, this concert is a public recognition of opera’s worldwide cultural influence, and is broadcast worldwide from the ancient Roman amphitheater, attracting thousands of opera lovers every summer.

Opera’s “great masterpieces are our cultural heritage and we Italians have given them to the world,” conductor Riccardo Muti said on Italy’s main national television minutes before the event began.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni sat on a raised platform facing the stage, flanked by senior officials, while the auditorium was packed with fashionable socialites, opera fans and dozens of ambassadors “from countries that love opera,” said Gianmarco Mazzi, undersecretary of state at Italy’s Ministry of Culture.

While much of the campaign for recognition took place under the previous center-left government, Unesco’s inclusion of Italy on the list is something of a coup for Italy’s conservative government, whose culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has made it his mission to promote Italianness.

One of his projects was the Museum of Italian Culture to highlight “Italian contribution to humanity” and his directorial appointments at the most important museums were beneficial Local selection The previous government sought International TalentIn April, he selected a leader for La Scala, Milan’s greatest opera house, and issued a statement declaring that the new owner Fortunato Otombinais Italian, “after three foreign general directors.”

Yet at Friday’s concert, while Italy’s 12 opera houses and some conservatories provided the orchestra and chorus, many of the soloists were not Italian – a sign of opera’s global appeal.

“The universality of this heritage is that there are Russians, Americans, French — there are all kinds of people, and they all sing in Italian,” said Cecilia Gasdia, the general manager of the Verona Arena Foundation and a soprano who made her Met debut in 1986. (She still sings to herself every morning before work, she said.)

“Opera is our national theater, like Shakespeare is to the British,” said Roberto Abbondanza, a baritone and president of Assolirica, an association of opera professionals that has played a major role in the campaign for recognition.

Stefano Trespidi, deputy artistic director of the Verona Arena Foundation, said Italy’s opera house and music conservatory had never joined forces to host an event like this.

“The entire opera world in Italy is here,” he said. “It’s a celebration of the opera world and a celebration of Italian opera.”

Opera originated in Italy around 1600. Opera began in Florence and developed in Venice, becoming an “extremely widespread” genre that quickly spread throughout Italy, Europe and the rest of the world, said Lorenzo Bianconi, a musicologist and professor emeritus at the University of Bologna.

While the drama took place in theaters that catered to the wealthy, the music spread to the streets. Itinerant musicians would play arias in distant village squares or on church organs after mass, and there were even reports of gondoliers singing the latest hits for their guests “to show that they were in the know,” said music critic Roberta Pedrotti, who has written several books on opera. There are many phrases in the Italian language that are derived from opera, she said.

Opera composer Marco Tutino said he realized the importance of Italian to opera when he began to be asked to write operas in other languages. “It’s the touchstone,” he said.

Mr Tutino said opera was “an art, a culture based on vocal technique and the Italian language, which is why we have to protect this designation of origin”.

Soprano Rosanna Savoia, who helped lead the recognition, said the gala concert “demonstrates the government’s clear political will to protect and promote opera.”

Abondanza said it marked a change from Italian opera’s attempts to win UN honours about a decade ago, when the government focused on trying to get “The Neapolitan pizza maker’s art.He added that China had successfully registered four opera traditions before Italy seriously promoted its own.

Maestro Muti told the audience that UNESCO’s “recognition is not an end, but a starting point” and it is worthwhile for us to move forward. The audience burst into applause.

As the night wore on, the “claps” rose and fell. The ballet gave way to short scenes from beloved operas like Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” or Puccini’s “La Bohème,” which the audience feasted on. Arias from “Tosca” were performed with extravagance, including burning incense, cannon blasts, dozens of children as altar boys, and a group of priests in gold robes. The crowd cheered. People on the rooftops began clapping to the triumphal march from Verdi’s “Aida.” Opera lovers asked them to quiet down.

“If you touch opera, you touch the depths of your soul. You are overwhelmed with emotion.” At halftime, Laura Costa applauded enthusiastically and was unstinting in her praise. Ms. Costa was no stranger to opera — she was a wedding singer — but the performance that night was more amazing than she had imagined, she said. “It was amazing.”

Ms. Pedrotti noted that the first Three Tenors concert 1990Italy’s opera festival celebrated its hosting of the World Cup with a production starring Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and broadcast live to millions of viewers around the world. The production was disliked by some opera lovers. But it has done a huge boost to opera’s popularity.

Undersecretary Mazzi said he hoped Friday’s concert could also be repeated internationally, becoming “a representative of Italian opera touring around the world.”

There are also international film festivals and sporting events here, he said. “Opera should be treated the same way.”

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