Verdi Festival & Milan Feedback

P & L W

Dear Andrew,

Many apols for not getting back to you sooner but after we got back from Milan we plunged into various things and have only just surfaced.

The trip went very well indeed. Flights were all fine, rail journeys were very comfortable and a good way to see more of the countryside. The hotel in Parma was 10 mins walk from the station and about 10 mins from the opera house and the centre of town so ideally placed. The staff were very helpful and friendly and made us very welcome and had upgraded up to a suite- the manager said we like to look after opera people!

We did the sights- cathedral, baptistery, ducal palace with fitted wooden theatre. And the opera house itself is lovely. Il Masnadiere is unjustly neglected- yes the plot is ridiculous but if you only want plausible plots you don't go to opera. There are lots of good things- a wonderful overture with a very exposed cello solo, some great arias, and for an early work some very interesting ensemble pieces so you can see the youngish Verdi trying out some of his trademarks which come to such great fruition in later pieces. And Parma had a strong enough cast to make a very convincing case for the piece.

Milan was lovely as ever and warm and dry. Hotel Milano Scala is great- super staff who were very attentive- and very well placed only 5 mins from La Scala.

Don Carlo was great with Rene Pape in superb form as the King and the rest of the cast kept up very well. Fabio Luisi managed it with great skill and sensitivity to the singers and the set was admirably uncluttered- all greys and whites to match the Dominicans' clothing and really brought across the atmosphere of the court. A stunning evening.

The Zeffirelli Aida may be 50 years old but it is still a great production. Brilliantly sung and a wonderful spectacle. I haven't seen so many people on a stage before for the return from battle scene. There are some things that you wouldn't do now- blacked up dancers for instance- but the production gets to the heart of the emotions and the politics in wholly engaging and convincing way. We shared a box with a young couple from Lyon who had never been to an opera before and they were transfixed and hooked and you can't ask more from a production than that.

So multiple thanks as ever for all the arrangements working so smoothly.

Best wishes.