Celebrating Verdi at Carnegie Hall

Photos by Vito Catalano.

The Italian Academy Foundation presented the most unique concert held in the Tri State area to commemorate Verdi’s 200th Birthday, which welcomed six hundred people to Carnegie Hall in New York for an all-instrumental tribute to Verdi on the very day, October 10th, of his birthday. Ambassadors, consuls, dignitaries, leaders of the Italian and Italian American community were guests of the I.A.F. now in its 64th year.

The renowned Cameristi della Scala, on world tour, drew a standing ovation for their original presentation of variations based on themes from Verdi operas.

The Consul General of Italy in New York, Natalia Quintavalle, and Deputy Consul, Lucia Pasqualini, ENI, Italy’s great energy organization, sponsor of the Cameristi’s World Tour, (whose latest slogan bespeaks ENI’s motivation: “diamo all energia,un energia nuova”), Mr. Peter Klein of UBS, President of the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation; Mr. Gerald Rupp, Chairman, The Eccola! Foundation; and Ludovica Rossi Purini, Founder of The Compagnia per la Musica of Rome collaborated with IAF in sponsoring the “invitation only” event, arranged in part by the PR firm of Vento and Associates.

According to IAF Chairman, Stefano Acunto, the concert came together one morning over a coffee at the Consulate as he sat with C.G. Quintavalle and Vice Consul Pasqualini to plan a kind of Birthday Party for Verdi. The three wanted to do something different, given the scores of celebrations set for this month on radio – WQXR’s Verdi month – and at numerous opera houses and concert halls across the country; there was even an outdoor march and concert over on Broadway at Verdi square. .

“Make it different; make it new”, was the goal, Acunto said, adding:

“By happy coincidence, we learned that the Cameristi della Scala had created a unique programme and had set a world tour, including Washington…and so we agreed to secure Carnegie Hall as a stop on their tour. It began to be realized through the efforts of the Consul General of Italy in New York, Natalia Quintavalle.”

[button url=”http://italianacademyfoundation.org/index.php/10/iaf-chairmans-remarks-at-the-verdi-at-carnegie-concert/”]View Chairman Acunto’s full remarks[/button] [button url=”http://italianacademyfoundation.org/index.php/gallery/?album=1&gallery=10″]View Photos from the Concert[/button]

Consul General Quintavalle expressed her appreciation of Verdi and the place he occupies in the hierarchy of music and in Italian creativity in addressing the 600 in attendance.

“Many Minded” is how Acunto described the incredible variety, depth and scope of Verdi’s work: “The Great Master of Parma achieved a variety and depth, much like that of a Shakespeare, and of Victor Hugo, Friedrich Schiller and the other geniuses whose works were seminal to Verdi’s libretti and to his inspiration,” he stated, adding:

“For the better part of the past 200 years, ever increasingly, Verdi’s music has become part of our listening vocabulary, part of our spiritual rhythm and an unmistakable part of popular culture. It is no accident that music from Italian opera, particularly Verdi, Puccini and Rossini, has worked its way into movie sound tracks, popular music “knock offs”, TV themes and even the raucous world of advertising. A recent example is the Verdi soundtrack to Woody Allen’s film Matchpoint. It is partly for that reason that we decided, in organizing this concert, to present the Cameristi della Scala’s programme of orchestral fantasies and fresh realizations of Verdi’s music, rather than the somewhat predictable format of the “most popular arias”. We hope that, in this format, familiar themes will prove newly familiar.

The IAF presented its 2013 Bravo! Award to a man whose artistic prowess and whose vision has informed much of what we appreciate in the theatre, on the silver screen and in opera houses across the world, especially for Verdi’s masterpieces. That honoree is the legendary Academy Award nominee, visionary, and director of stage, screen and opera, and great exponent of Italianita across the globe, Franco Zeffirelli.

Acunto, who visited the Maestro in Rome in early October, explained that Zeffirelli, who turned 90 this year, could not be present to receive the award due to his health.

He read a letter Zeffirelli sent to him the day prior.

[note note_color=”#e1e1e1″]

Caro Amico,

Voglio ringraziarti e anche pregarti di offrire un messaggio di amicizia e di affetto alla Vostra iniziativa del “Bravo Award 2013” e ai Vostri collaborator.

Purtroppo il tempo che passa troppo in fretta mi rende impossibile di essere con Voi in questa occasione felicissima della visita degli amici della Scala a New York ai quali mi lega una meravigliosa serie di esperienze d’arte sempre con il Massimo successo.

E ripensando alla mia storia d’amore e di magnifiche esperienze insieme a Roma e a New Yor, debbo ringraziare dal profondo del cuore il pubblico Americano per avermi concesso tanti stravordinari successi ed esperienze nella mia lunga carrier in America.

Franco Zeffirelli[/note]

In English…

[note note_color=”#e1e1e1″]May I thank you and ask you to express a message of friendship and affectionate sentiment for your initiative and the 2013 Bravo! Award to you and your collaborators.

Given the quickening passage of time it has become impossible for me to be with you on this happiest occasion marking the New York visit of my friends from La Scala, with whom I have had a marvelous series of artistic experiences always with the greatest success.

Recalling again our warm history and magnificent experiences together in Rome and in New York, I would like to thank American audiences profoundly from my heart for having given me such extraordinary successes and such extraordinary experiences during my long career in America.

                                         Franco Zeffirelli[/note]


In concluding, Acunto asked the 600 in attendance to let the evening’s concert, honor the towering figure of Giuseppe Verdi and recall, as well, the genius of Franco Zeffirelli, for whose return to good health we pray.

The concert was followed by a sponsor’s reception at the Klavierhaus Recital Hall on West 58th Street where a cake with “Happy Birthday Joe” was served with champagne and sweets.

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