Giuseppe Verdi’s first public appearance as a musician (aside from playing the organ and harmonium in church) was in this room in February 1829, when he was sixteen.
The room, which is now called Salone Barezzi, was in the home of Antonio Barezzi (1788-1867), a prosperous wholesale grocer and great lover of music, who lived in this house in the center of Busseto and was one of the founders of the Busseto Philharmonic Society in 1816. Barezzi knew the Verdi family because as a wholesale grocer had business dealings with Carlo Verdi, who aside from running a pub was a retail grocer on a very small scale.
Barezzi was one of the first to recognize Giuseppe Verdi’s musical talent. He helped to finance the boy’s musical education and also hired him as a music teacher for his daughter, Margherita, later to become Verdi’s wife.
Giuseppe Verdi and Margherita Barezzi were married in 1836 and had two children, but the young family was soon struck by illness. Within four years Margherita and both children had died, and Verdi himself had a long period of illness from which he eventually recovered.
The Barezzi home was later turned into a museum run by the cultural association Amici di Verdi (Friends of Verdi). It has an excellent collection of pictures and documents relating to the composer’s early years, and as of 2008 the salon was still used for concerts or recitals several times each month.
Scenes from Verdi’s operas, on display in Casa Barezzi.
Casa Barezzi as seen from Piazza Verdi, the main square in the center of Busseto.
This plaque, with a text by the poet, librettist and composer Arrigo Boito, was mounted on Barezzi’s house in 1913.
In 1845, with money he had earned from his operas Nabucco, I Lombardi alla prima crociata, Ernani, I due Foscari and Giovanna d’Arco, Verdi bought this luxurious house on the main street of Busseto, via Roma.
He lived here from 1849 to 1851 with the former opera singer Giuseppina Strepponi, who would later become his second wife, but this caused a scandal among the straight-laced townsfolk of Busseto because they were living together even though they were not (yet) married. In this house Verdi composed his operas Luisa Miller, Stiffelio and Rigoletto.
Palazzo Orlandi is now private property and was not open to the public when I was there in 2008, though I understand visits are sometimes possible.
My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2017.
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