VIVA VERDI! Documentary on Giuseppe Verdi's Casa Verdi, the Inspiration Behind Dustin Hoffman's QUARTET Joins Year-long Celebration of Verdi’s Bicentennial




LOS ANGELES, JULY 29, 2014 – Joining in the celebration of renowned opera composer Giuseppe Verdi’s Bicentennial year, VIVA VERDI!’s award-winning filmmakers, director Yvonne Russo and producer Christine La Monte, are bringing to the screen the remarkable story of the hidden lives inside Casa Verdi of Milan, the home built by Verdi for retired opera singers and musicians. While Verdi composed many of the 19th century’s most beloved operas (La Traviata, Aida, Rigoletto, Otello), Casa Verdi was the work he felt was his most important. The inspiration behind Dustin Hoffman’s film, QUARTET, the stately retirement home built in 1896 still remains the heart of Verdi’s legacy.

VIVA VERDI’s first phase of filming was completed in 2013 and captured the extraordinary stories of tragedy and triumph, of love lost and won, from Casa Verdi’s marvelously eccentric artists. Once gracing the great opera stages of the world, the home’s current residents, who range in age from 77-103, are living out their “third act” with dignity and purpose. Comprised of international opera singers, ballet dancers, musicians, conductors and composers, these living legends are still creating, performing and passionately mentoring in-house or visiting students – the future stars of opera, ballet and music. Because of Verdi’s extraordinary generosity and strong belief in a dignified musical retirement, over 1,000 of Verdi’s “dear companions” have called Casa Verdi home since its opening.

To live here, residents must have “exercised the art of music as a profession.” Singers, composers, conductors, musicians, music teachers and dancers pay whatever they can afford; if they have nothing, yet remain able-bodied, dedicated artists, they may still live out their days here for free. Mentoring young music students has always been an important aspect of Casa Verdi's history, and currently 16 gifted students from around the world live here, mentored by these renowned residents.

“Our goal is to provide a glimpse into the vital lives of these legendary artists, who are a testament to the importance of being creative at any stage of life,” states filmmaker Yvonne Russo, “and to show that self-expression, art and music evoke vivid memories in the elderly, reviving a sense of belonging to the world as when they were young.” Christine La Monte, the film’s producer, adds, “The act of creating is life-enhancing and nourishing to the spirit - at any age. We hope through our film to create a more vibrant blueprint for retirement homes, one where music and the arts play a more prominent role.”

An Indiegogo campaign will launch on Tuesday, July 29 to raise funds for the film’s second round of filming in Milan, Italy – where Casa Verdi is located. Donor gifts include Verdi Bicentennial collectible items in limited editions; decoupage bowls and watercolor paintings made by Casa Verdi residents; and a private screening of the film and homemade Italian dinner for six, prepared by the filmmakers.

Produced by Christine La Monte and Yvonne Russo, who also directs, VIVA VERDI! is an independent production slated for theatrical release in 2015. Sponsors include the Grand Hotel et de Milano, in Milan, Italy.