Opera houses across Italy have come together to help the government meet the shortfall on a bid to save for the nation a country house lived in by composer Giuseppe Verdi for 50 years.
Villa Verdi in Sant’Agata di Villanova – close to the town of Busseto in the Emilia-Romagna region where he was born – and his home for 50 years, was put up for sale in October after a long-running squabble among his heirs.
Concerts dedicated to Verdi – famous for operas including La Traviata, Aida and Otello – will be held at opera houses in a host of Italian cities until the middle of June, with the proceeds going towards helping the Italian government to buy the home.
Verdi built the house on land he owned in 1848. It was initially inhabited by his parents before he moved in with his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi, in 1851, remaining there until his death in 1901.
The home is owned by four siblings from the Carrara Verdi family who are descendants of Maria Filomena Verdi, the composer’s younger cousin who was raised by him and Strepponi as their daughter.
It is due to be put up for auction with an estimated starting bid of €30m. However, the Italian state has the right of first refusal after an offer is received.
The government allocated €20m for the purchase of the home, which it intends to use as a museum, in its 2023 budget.
But it now needs the support of the opera houses to bring the project to fruition.
The culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, said it was “the duty of the Republic” to honour the memory of Verdi.
“Together with Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour, Verdi was a prominent figure of the Risorgimento [Italian unification],” he added. “When I had the honour of assuming the role of minister, one of the first problems that arose was the fate of the villa. I never had a moment’s hesitation in thinking that it should be acquired by the state.”
The Carrara Verdi siblings fought over what to do with the home for 20 years, and given that neither could afford to buy each other out, Italy’s supreme court ruled that it must be closed and sold.
Until October, Villa Verdi was lived in by Angiolo Carrara Verdi and partly used as a museum, with visitors able to tour rooms including one containing the bed and other items of furniture from the hotel room in Milan where the composer died.
The home contains about 7,600 other items belonging to Verdi, including his comb, a top hat, manuscripts and a piano.
Verdi had two children with his first wife, Margherita Barezzi, but they both died within a few years of their birth.