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Italy's opera houses unite to save Verdi's home

Campaign to raise funds to buy Villa Verdi.

Opera houses across Italy are joining a fund-raising campaign to help the state buy Villa Verdi, the museum and former home of the celebrated Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi.

Supported by the culture ministry, the Viva Verdi initiative will see 14 opera foundations each hosting a performance of Verdi's music and operas, between now and the summer.

Villa Verdi, which is in need of renovation, was put on the market last autumn following a 20-year dispute between the composer's heirs.

The Italian state will exercise its right of first refusal and the government has allocated €20 million for the purchase of the landmark property in the northern Emilia-Romagna region.

However the sale price is expected to be in the region of €30 million, with the proceeds from the special concerts hosted by Italy's opera houses helping the state to meet the shortfall.

It is also possible for individuals to make donations to the Viva Verdi campaign.

"Giuseppe Verdi was a key figure in national Risorgimento, an important figure along with Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour" - said Italian culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano - "It is a duty of the Republic to honour his memory."

Located in S. Agata di Villanova, near Piacenza, Villa Verdi was the composer's home from 1851 until his death in 1901.

Verdi purchased the property in 1848, personally drawing up plans for the expansion of the villa, part of which dates to the 16th-century.

The house-museum contains musical treasures such as the Viennese piano which Verdi used to compose some of his greatest works, including La Traviata and Il Trovatore.

Francesco Giambrone, president of Italy's association of performing arts AGIS and superintendent of Rome's opera house, described the Viva Verdi initiative as "a beautiful Italian story", saying: "The world of entertainment is here to help safeguard the identity of our country."

For details of the Viva Verdi programme, scheduled from 10 February until 15 June, see the culture ministry website.

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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia