Like many Italian opera houses the Teatro Regio has a slashed budget and is down to four works during the regular season and three for the Verdi Festival in October.
I decided on Friday to go up to Parma on Saturday to see Verdi's second opera Il Giorno di Regno (A King for a Day) - one of those works that is rarely performed and I will probably never have the opportunity of seeing anywhere else. I'll be writing about the performance later but in the meantime some thoughts and shots of Parma.
Parma was the first trip I took outside of Roma after our arrival in August of 2007. I had reached Roman Rage in record time and needed to get out of the city. The Verdi Festival that October offered the chance. I wrote about it extensively at that time - those postings can be found here. It was so different and I remarked on that difference two years ago. People were friendly; rules were obeyed - cars were not parked two a breast or across pedestrian crossings; people were friendly; bicycles seemed to be the preferred mode of transportation - at least in Centro; people were friendly; the city was clean and I stopped looking down to avoid the doggie doodoo; people were friendly and I wasn't a bother to the people in stores. And did I mention that the people were friendly?
Yes Dora my darling, a platter of hammy goodness. I wrote about culattello on my first visit to Parma back in 2007. It is the best ham in the world - bar none.
Well after my third visit I still stand by what I said two years ago particularly the people being friendly. As an example yesterday at lunch - yes Dora that big platter of culattelo was lunch along with warm biscuits and a glass of wine - a young man came over and introduced himself. Edu (Eduardo) also wanted me to meet his mother, father and sister Anna and did the introductions. The fact that Edu was 18 months old meant that our Italian was on the same level so conversation was easy - monosyllabic and pointing. Conversation with Edu lead to a conversation with Mama and Papa which started off as apologies for him bothering me, the assurance that young master Edu was no bother then led to a pleasant chat about Parma, ham, Canada and things in general. It was a more than pleasant way to spend the lunch hour. I saw them several times as I walked through town later - Parma centro is not that big - and each time Edu gave "il Signor Canadese" a big wave.
My friend Simonetta wants to do a photo essay book on opera houses in Italy and though it does need renovation the Teatro Regio would qualify for inclusion on so many counts. I love the fact that in Italian opera houses there is often a clock built into the proscenium arch - that may not actually work but is there anyway.
And I seem to always have congenial palco (box) companions at the lovely Teatro Reggio in Parma. At the 2008 Verdi Festival it was four ladies from Como who were delightful, knowledgeable and fun company; this time it was a lady from Venezia and a young man from Miliano. Like me they didn't want to miss the chance to see this rare Verdi work. As Mario, the Milanese, said even second rate Verdi is still Verdi! And I was surprised at how much we were able to communicate despite my limited Italian.
I had never ventured across the river to the Palazzo Ducale and the big park surrounding it. This morning, after a rather large breakfast by Italian standards and though the temperature was a brisk 9 c it was sunny and it seemed like a good time for a walk. The park was busy with joggers, dog walkers and strollers - both the human and the kind you push babies in - and a few people all bundled up but basking in the winter sun. A park in winter - now to me that's romantic.
07 febbraio - San Lorenzo Maiorano