Edmonton Verdi Festival Newsletter, Issue 2, June, 2013

New Edmonton festival celebrates Italian composer Verdi:
Six months of birthday festivities start June 2

By Mark Morris, Edmonton Journal May 31, 2013 5:06 PM

Adriana Davies, centre, an Edmonton Verdi Festival organizer, is pictured with pianist Emilio De Mercato and cellist Silvia Buttiglione, both of whom will be performing during the six-month festival that celebrates the 200th birthday of the Italian composer. Photograph by: Larry Wong, Edmonton JournalEDMONTON - The classical music scene, with its roots in the past, loves celebrating anniversaries, and 2013 is turning into a gala year. There’s Edmonton Opera’s 50th, and the 100th anniversary of the infamous premičre of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (which the ESO is playing June 14-15). The great German composer Wagner was born 200 years ago, and if Edmonton Opera is not acknowledging that in their forthcoming season, a quick trip down the QE2 will take you to Calgary Opera’s Flying Dutchman next February. Wagner’s great rival for the pedestal of 19th-century opera was Verdi, and celebrations for the 200th anniversary of his birth (Oct. 10, 1813) are in full swing across the world, shortly to be joined by an enterprising new festival in Edmonton, the Edmonton Verdi Festival.

Sabian CompriIt is an initiative by Edmonton’s Italian community, led by the Edmonton branch of the National Congress of Italian-Canadians and the Celebrating Italian Families of Edmonton Society, to honour Italy’s most beloved composer.

The festival is putting on a series of events from this month through November. Participants include local professional musicians, writers and teachers, with visiting academics, but much of the emphasis is on giving performance opportunities to youth, especially local singers.

The Edmonton Journal is a Media Sponsor of the Edmonton Verdi Festival

Appuntamenti Musicali Verdiani June 2nd Concert Launches Verdi Festival in Edmonton

EDMONTON - For six months from June 2nd to November 3rd Edmonton becomes a “City of Verdi” and Edmonton can take pride in a home-grown festival that is unparalleled in North America and even Italy! The first concert, Appuntamento Musicale Verdiani takes place at the Italian Cultural Centre at 3:30 pm on Sunday, June 2nd, the Italian Festa della Repubblica (Feast of the Republic]. This is what some dignitaries had to say about the Festival:

  • The Honorable Alison Redford, QC, Premier of Alberta: “The men and women of Alberta’s Italian-Canadian community have always shared their cultural legacy with a degree of pride and generosity that has inspired admiration among Albertans of every cultural background. In celebrating the life of Giuseppe Verdi, the Edmonton Verdi Festival reminds us all that there is no better reason to celebrate than life itself.”

  • MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark and leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta Dr. Raj Sherman “Thank you all for coming, on behalf of myself and the Alberta Liberal Opposition I wish to extend my appreciation to those who organised the Edmonton Verdi Festival. Over the next six months Edmontonians will have the opportunity to enjoy one of history’s greatest composers. Please accept my regrets that I could not be there today. The Italian community is a strong and vibrant part of Edmonton, and I wish to thank you for sharing part of your culture with us in such a wonderful way. On behalf of the Alberta Liberals thank you all for coming and to all of you involved with the festival: In bocca al lupo! [into the wolf’s mouth!]Thank you very much, and I hope the festival launch goes well.”

  • Stephen Mandel, Mayor of Edmonton: Mayor Mandel sends his regrets that he couldn’t be here but he is attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual Conference in Vancouver. “In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi, opera fans will experience a series of concerts showcasing selections of his work. His appeal is timeless, and his music is renewed in every generation.”

  • Lynn Mandel, Chief Honorary Patron, Edmonton Verdi Festival: “Having studied ballet for a good part of my life, I was exposed to the music of the classics as part of our education and training. Verdi was no stranger and became a favourite of mine and therefore a part of my life. Our Edmonton Italian community should be an example for us all. While celebrating their heritage and the importance of Verdi, they enrich the lives of others by reaching out to everyone.”

June 2nd: Festa della Repubblica/Republic Day in Italy

By Adriana (Albi) Davies, CM, PhD,
Program and Communications Chair, Edmonton Verdi Festival

"You may have the universe if I may have Italy."
Composer Giuseppe Verdi

The Italian FlagYou know that it is the chord of sorrow which finds the readiest echo in our breasts. Sorrow, however, assumes different aspects depending on the time and nature and condition of this or that nation. The kind of sorrow that now fills the minds of us Italians is the sorrow of a race that feels the need of a better destiny, the sorrow of one who has fallen and wishes to rise, the sorrow of one who repents and waits, longing for regeneration. Accompany, my Verdi, this high and solemn sorrow with your noble harmonies. Do what you can to nourish it, to strengthen it and direct it to its goal.
Poet Giuseppe Giusti

EDMONTON - Historians see the Unification of Italian (Il Risorgimento) as a process spanning the period from 1815 and the Congress of Vienna to the capture of Rome in 1870. In August 1870, as a result of the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III recalled his garrison from Rome effectively liberating it from foreign rule. Giuseppe Verdi was a patriot whose work for many in the country exemplified the desire for freedom from foreign empires. Verdi lived this history of defiance and ultimately liberation, and these were important themes in his operas.

From the performance of his third opera Nabucco (March 1842), Verdi went from success to success, and was embraced by the people of Italy not only as a great composer but also as a representative of the Risorgimento. In Nabucco, Italian opera-goers easily identified the “Va pensiero” chorus of the Hebrew slaves as a lament of the downtrodden Italian people against the yoke of an imperial power. To those who wanted Italian independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the slogan “Viva Verdi” not only celebrated the composer’s achievements but also became an acronym for “Vittorio Emanuele Re DItalia” – a cry for the return of the king of Italy.

Nearly 100 years later, in 1946, a constitutional referendum occurred in Italy after the defeat of Benito Mussolini by the Allies. Through universal suffrage, the people of Italy were asked to determine the nature of their government – a monarchy or a republic.

Supporters of a republic triumphed with 12,717,923 votes cast for and 10,719,284 votes against. June 2nd has become the Festa della Repubblica, and is considered the birth of the new Italian nation.

It is therefore very fitting to begin the six-month celebration of the birth of Verdi on the day that commemorates the twentieth century rebirth of his beloved country.

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The National Congress of Italian-Canadians, Edmonton District (NCIC)
and The Celebrating Italian Families of Edmonton Society (CIFES)