We had seen this documentary when it was first released. It was a treat to watch it again recently. It is a joy to see all these old opera singers and musicians living in retirement at the house that Giuseppe Verdi, perhaps the world's best opera composer of all times, created for them to spend their last years. Daniel Schmid, the director, gives an encore to some of the residents at Casa Verdi when he made this documentary as a loving tribute to those that gave so much and are now forgotten. It is sad to think that most of the people in the documentary made in 1984 might not be with us any longer.
The film showcases Sara Scuderi, a soprano who was one of the best during her prime. Like most of the other people living at Casa Verdi, she shares some of her memories for us. Best of all is watching her listening to her own recording of Tosca, an opera that she obviously identifies herself with. One can't help but wonder what goes through her mind at that time. Perhaps, her appearances at La Scala, or the Colon in Buenos Aires? It must be hard for someone to find herself in that position after years of being acclaimed and in the limelight.
There are others like Leonida Bellon, who sings in quite a strong voice arias from operas in which he appeared. His encounter with Sara Scuderi in one of the hallways where she, as Tosca, kills him, who is supposed to be Scarpia, just like in a performance and both stay in character. We are given a tour of the personal belongings by Giuseppe Mancchini, who shows us his costumes he keeps well preserved at Casa Verdi. Giulietta Scimoniatto, a leading soprano who is much younger that the rest of the people we meet, shares some moments about the importance of maintaining this refuge for the older musicians.
Giovanni Puligheddu, a composer and the main conductor for all the singers in the residence, gives us a tour also of his many trophies and diplomas, and even gives a demonstration of one of his improvisations. For a man of his age, it is an amazing feat for him, or anyone else to be able to do what he does.
Thanks to Daniel Schmid we are given a glance of some of the singers that were at their prime during the first half of the twentieth century. These opera performers and musicians are now waiting for their final curtain surrounded by the music they adored.
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