Backstory

"To the world, as to the nation he helped to found,Verdi left an enduring legacy of music, charity, patriotism, honour, grace, and reason. He was and remains a mighty force for continuing good."

Mary Jane Phillips-Matz,Verdi biographer

This documentary film is an outgrowth of three feature articles of mine that appeared in the magazine Opera News. [To read these articles, scroll down to the bottom of this page.] With each successive visit to Parma my immersion into this unique musical culture deepened as did my appreciation and understanding of the life and art of Verdi. For me, the imminent Verdi bicentennial made it an imperative -- a sort of calling, if you will -- to create a lasting document, a cinematic essay on the staying power of the composer's art. To achieve this, some remarkable people of Parma would explain, in their own words, their personal connection to Verdi’s glorious operas and the inspiring example of his extraordinary life.

The response was overwhelming; doors flew open and our film crew was virtually handed the keys to the storied Teatro Regio during the 2011 Festival Verdi to document performances and rehearsals. Our troupe of gifted film-makers -- the superb documentary film company MaGa Production of Rome -- were welcomed everywhere: Verdi's heirs brought us inside the Verdi villa and the legendary Club of 27 invited us among them to observe their never-before-filmed milieu as did the newly-formed women's Verdi club, Le Verdissime. In all, a gorgeous mosaic of memorable personalities, including Parma's world-famous "loggionisti", introduced us to "their" Verdi with passion, warmth and humor.

That first month of filming produced nearly one hundred hours of beautifully shot, exclusive footage -- insightful interviews, exciting performances and stunnign locations. We returned the following year to present some footage, at the invitation of Teatro Regio, in the magnificent Ridotto space as aprt of the 2012 Festival Verdi. For us this was a huge honor and the warm reception of the Parma public was a huge validation of our efforts. That year we filmed more footage and delved more deeply into our subject. Along the way, we unearthed an astonishing find: a "lost" 1963 documentary made for CBS television entitled "In the Mouth of the Wolf" chronicling Parma's unique musical culture, an exceptional point of reference for "27". We continue to raise funds to advance this project toward completion, and continue to discover new aspects of this fascinating story that msut be filmed. In October 2013, we filmed Nobel Prize laureate Aung Suu Kii of Myanmar as she visited the Club dei 27 in Parma and discussed Verdi's themes of rebellion and freedom, a glorious new tessera in the gorgeous mosaic that will be "27".

We intend to submit "27" to Festivals and present the film in opera houses and cultural institutions the world over in 2013 and thereafter. I am already receiving requests to present this film in various venues and my casual mention of this project socially or in musical circles is always met by enthused curiosity that only adds to the buzz. With its glorious wash of images and splendid musical performances, its deeply personal interviews that are by turns joyful, insightful and moving, opera aficionados will find "27" irresistible. "27" will exert its charms equally on those less familiar with the art form as well as anyone who enjoys the adventure of discovering an intriguing and delightful new world.

The genius of Verdi's music speaks for itself but not enough has been mentioned about the man and his actions. Verdi was a liberal thinker who gave a thundering voice to a political movement that created a modern nation, who served in political office, and who used his wealth and fame to advance humanist causes and perform countless charitable acts. Permit me this moment of whimsy, but I think Verdi would have been overjoyed to discover the recent phenomenon of crowd-sourcing sites like Indiegogo, where strangers of all economic levels come together to form a spontaneous community unified in supporting a cause that will bring joy and enlightenment while helping Verdi prevail well into his third century as "a mighty force for continuing good".

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to help us with "27"s post-Production costs -- editing, legal costs, usage of copyright material, etc. Share this link with someone who feels passionate about the importance of musical education.

And remember that donations to"27"are tax deductible.

VIVA VERDI!!!

August Ventura

Inquiries: augustvent1@mac.com

 

To read these articles, click on them to enlarge.

My first Parma-Verdi article for Opera News was "Letter from Parma" in the August 2009 issue. I describe the first-ever performance I attended at the Regio -- a contested one -- which was literally a life-altering experience.



This assignment allowed me a deeper immersion into Verdi and his world and brought me closer to the realization that he makes the shortest of short lists for "Most Remarkable Person Who Ever Lived". Viva Verdi!


While filming sequences for the entire month of October during the 2011 Festival Verdi, we looked in on the lovely production of "Falstaff" presented at the astonishing Teatro Farnese, the first time an opera was fully staged here since 1739.


New York treasure Fred Plotkin wrote this wonderful profile of the Club dei 27, who figure prominently in this film, "27".


This uncredited piece appeared in Opera Now [Jan/Feb 2010] and affectionately discusses theClub dei 27 and Le Verdissime. Can anyone tell me who the author is?

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