Giuseppe Verdi in Vanity Fair (1879)Edmonton has its very own, home-grown Verdi bicentenary festival! The fact that Italy's gift to operatic music - the great Giuseppe Verdi - was having a significant anniversary in 2013 got two Edmonton Italian societies and friends charged up.

We needed to plan some special activities to celebrate Verdi's musical achievement and to excite the younger generation including families about his enduring work. Led by two presidents - Carlo Amodio of the National Congress of Italian Canadians, Edmonton District (NCIC) and Antonella Ciancibello-Normey of the Celebrating Italian Families of Edmonton Society (CIFES) - the group started to brainstorm. There wasn"Tt a naysayer among them.

The group solidified into the Verdi Festival Committee. Besides the co-chairs, this included pianist Emilio De Mercato as Music Director/Chair of the Artistic Committee, and me as Communications Chair. Other volunteers who quickly jumped the bandwagon are Frank Cappellano of Panorama Italiano (the Italian TV program broadcast on Shaw Cable); other musicians Mattia Berrini, Silvia Buttiglione and Stephanie Kwan; and all-round Italian community volunteer Rudy Cavaliere, NCIC Vice President Lina Filomeno-Melchionna, NCIC Board member Antonella Cortese and youth volunteer Andrea Melchionna.

We had a big, bold vision of bringing Verdi to all Edmontonians and central Albertans, and we had some ideas as to possible programming. This grew from four small concerts in June, to a main stage performance at the SERVUS Heritage Festival on August 4th (and others on the Italian Pavilion stage) to a Gala Concert on October 11th at the Winspear culminating with the annual CIFES "20 Regions of Italy Extravaganza" from November 1-3! This year, this will be a kind of mini-conference featuring Verdi expert Philip Gossett and Renato Garavaglia, esteemed Director of La Scala Theatre Museum from the world renowned Italian opera house of TEATRO ALLA SCALA, Milan, Italy. There will also be good food, performances and lots of old-fashioned fun.

To do all of these wonderful things, money and people are needed. A fundraising reception is scheduled for April 20th at 3:00 pm at the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre. Our volunteer corps is growing as we enlist the help of other Italian societies, family and friends. We have also brought onboard programming partners including: the Edmonton Opera Chorus - Michael Spassov, Artistic Administrator and Chorus Master and the Edmonton Youth Orchestra - Music Director Michael Massey. Jack Little, Executive Director of the SERVUS Heritage Festival, saw the possibilities for adding "a little bit of Verdi" to their established festival. We have also enlisted our first media partner - the CKUA Radio Network. Not bad for three months of hard work!

We need donors, sponsors, supporter and friends. Come to us with your ideas and all types of assistance. We want this to be a 6-month-long community celebration. We also have a legacy gift in mind for Edmonton but I am not allowed to let the cat out of the bag quite yet!

Plan to visit our website regularly. We will be producing a monthly Verdi Festival Newsletter. READ the first issue. Do not hesitate to contact any of the Verdi Festival Committee members.


Adriana A. Davies, Web Editor

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