Among my works, the one I like best is the home that I have had built in Milan for accommodating old singers not favored by fortune, or who, when they were young, did not possess the virtue of saving. The poor, dear companions of my lifetime! Believe me, my friend, that home is truly my most beautiful work.Giuseppe Verdi
Entering Casa Verdi in Milan, Italy, is like walking into a living masterpiece. The neo-Gothic style of the mansion is elegant and regal, austere yet sumptuous. The air is thick with sounds of music. So thick in fact, it’s almost as if you can see it in the form of rich colors floating in and out of the dozens of rooms, back and forth through the large windows and then down the long, tapestry covered corridors until it finally arrives to your listening ear. Your heart warms as the music slowly envelopes you, subtly inviting you deeper into this house filled with living legends. Your curiosity sparks, the pull is undeniable—you must discover the treasures of Casa Verdi for yourself. Because there is, quite frankly, no other place like it in the world.
VIVA VERDI! – Purpose
Shortly after his death, the doors of Casa Verdi opened to its first nine guests on October 10, 1902, which just happened to be “The Master’s” birthday. Over dozens of decades, through world wars and momentous changes in human history, thousands of Verdi’s “dear companions,” have called this extraordinary place home during their own third act.
To live here, residents must have “exercised the art of music as a profession.”
Singers, composers, conductors, musicians, music teachers and dancers, many of whom were staples in the grand halls around the world including nearby La Scala or The Royal Opera House or The Metropolitan Opera, pay whatever they can afford. But if they have nothing, yet still meet the requirements of being able-bodied dedicated artists, they may live out the rest of their days here for free.
A brief walk through the expansive corridors of Casa Verdi reveals that age has not dulled the performers love for music and their compulsion to create. This is fertile emotional territory—there is romance, regret, remembrances, all rife with metaphors about the relationship between art and life. Some of the residents often burst into song when they can’t remember their words during a conversation and others sing simply for the joy of it. Many long to share their newspaper clippings with their reviews or play an album of their recorded music to any interested party.
But their inherent glory is perhaps most evident during the daily music classes that are offered at Casa Verdi, when the glow of their former days is reignited. They are on stage again, seemingly in front of hundreds of adoring fans, free to express themselves creatively, emotionally and physically. Singing or dancing or playing the violin is to these precious souls, as natural as breathing.