Casa di Riposo

After Verdi had ended his career as an opera composer, he created what he said was his greatest work, Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, nicknamed "Casa Verdi." Casa Verdi, as orginally chartered, is home for people who worked for the "Art of Music," who are Italian citizens and who find themselves in a state of poverty. Unique in the world, this home for retired musicians is considered the final masterpiece of Verdi, who dedicated the last few years of his life to this project.

In 1889 Verdi purchased the land near Porta Garibaldi. He hired an architect, and played a major role in its design. The building was completed in 1900. Casa Verdi opened to guests in 1902, the year after Verdi's death. There are 100 retired musicians living there today. Casa Verdi has taken in more than a thousand people who have dedicated their lives in various ways to the art of music and who, having arrived at retirement age, have been able to live their old age in complete freedom and independence close to the memory of the great Italian, Giuseppe Verdi.

In Verdi's will, he bequeathed to Casa di Riposo "all my composer's royalties from Italy as well as foreign countries on all my operas..." Those royalties supported the retirement home until 1962 when the copyright ended for all of his operas.

For a visit go to Casa Verdi.

Prior to building Casa Verdi, Verdi built, at his expense, a hospital in 1888 located outside the village of Villanova, near Busseto. "It was built to save sick peasants of the area a long journey to the nearest hospital, in Piacenza" (Weaver, Verdi, 244). Today it is an important and modern physical rehabilitation center.

Two Funerals

Verdi expressed in his will: "I wish my funeral to be very simple, and to take place at daybreak or at the time of the angelus in the evening, without singing or music."

His first funeral took place at dawn at San Francesco di Paola, a small Baroque church a short walk from Teatro alla Scala. (I attended a concert there in 1992, and at the time I did not realize that it was the location for his funeral.) The initial interment was in Milan's Cimitero Monumentale next to his wife, Giuseppina Strepponi. A witness said: "the cortege could hardly move through the thick crowd...not a song, not the slightest sound: an awesome silence." A month later for the second interment, his body was moved to Casa Verdi. It was estimated that 300,000 people witnessed the procession through the streets of Milan to his final resting place. Arturo Toscanni conducted the La Scala chorus and orchestra in "Va pensiero" from Verdi's third opera Nabucco.

Tim Cordell: 16 October 2013