The evocative Town Hall Square of Castell'Arquato was yesterday evening the exceptional setting for the two key moments of the Evening: the Awarding Ceremony of the 33rd Luigi Illica International Prize (which every two years honors excellence in the field of opera, culture and journalism) and the scenic representation of “Nozze Istriane” by Antonio Smareglia on a libretto by Luigi Illica, commissioned by the < strong>Artistic Director Jacopo Brusa for the Festival Illica 2023 with the aim to raise awareness of one of the least performed operas.
An award that celebrates excellence
The winners of the 33rd Luigi Illica International Award, whose 62nd anniversary falls in 2023, were decided by a prestigious jury chaired by Mauro Felicori , Councillor for Culture and Landscape of the Emilia-Romagna Region: among its 10 excellent members Carlo Fontana, President of Impresa Cultura Italia-Confcommercio, former Superintendent of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Cristina Ferrari, Director of the Piacenza Theaters Foundation, the Artistic Director of the Illica Castell'Arquato Festival Jacopo Brusa, and Gilda Bojardi, Councilor for Culture and Tourism of the Municipality of Castell'Arquato and others.
The winners and the reasons
The biennial Prize was founded in 1961 by Cesare Pecorini, President of the Pro Loco of Castell'Arquato and journalist and by the musicologist Mario Morini to pay homage to the figure of Luigi Illica, whose centenary of his death (Castell'Arquato, 9 May 1857 – 16 December 1919).
The special recognition Illica d'Oro was assigned to the opera singer Rajna Kabaivanska “for her long career and the many Illica characters represented with that artistic sensibility and professional that distinguishes only the great performers.” Kabaivanska, explained the Jury in the motivations, "has been able to constantly illuminate all the characters brought to the stage with passion, dedication and discipline" and to dedicate "all her tireless passion and loving commitment to teaching and disseminating operatic culture to young people" .
Rajna Kabaivanska succeeds Monica Maggioni, winner of the Illica d'Oro in 2021.
For the Established Singer Category, the Illica Award went to Gregory Kunde, a tenor with a rich vocal heritage and unique timbre and, in the Emerging Singer category, to the young baritone Davide Luciani, considered a reference in the world opera panorama of Luigi Illica's librettist production. While it was Gian Paolo Minardi, journalist of the Gazzetta di Parma, who won the prestigious award in the Music Critic category: "for the academic, didactic and critical commitment, but also for the ability to always review with honesty and balance".
The Bohème life of Luigi Illica in a book by Giangiacomo Schiavi
The awarding of the Illica prize in the Journalists category to Giangiacomo Schiavi, columnist for Corriere della Sera, deserves a separate chapter for "the work done with the Illica Festival, which has already in 2019, and constant dedication as a journalist to local and Milanese causes".
In collaboration with the IULM University of Milan, Masters in Journalism, Schiavi has explored and discovered new aspects of the Arquatese librettist and journalist, through careful research and 360-degree examination of the multifaceted role, of great topicality and modernity, by Luigi Illica.
The results are collected in the book “The rebel genius. Luigi Illica una vita da Bohème”, presented Saturday 8 July at 18.00 in the gardens of Palazzo Vigevani Gravaghi in Castell'Arquato.
The evening at the opera: "Istrian Wedding"
After the award ceremony of the 33rd Luigi Illica International Prize, the staged representation of the lyrical drama in three acts "Nozze Istriane" closes the evening at the Opera.
On the podium, leading the orchestra in the performance of what is considered Illica's Cavalleria Rusticana, was the Maestro concertatore and orchestra conductor Jacopo Brusa who received warm applause in recognition of the very high level of execution and the particular emphasis on rhythm and atmosphere.
On stage, excellences of the lyric music panorama: Sarah Tisba (Marussa), Graziano Dallavalle (Menico), Filippo Polinelli (Biagio), Giuseppe Infantino (Lorenzo), Francesco Samuele Venuti (Nicola), Giovanna Lanza (Luze), accompanied by the prestigious Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic Orchestra who charmed the audience with warmth and masterful execution.
The choir was conducted by Maestro Riccardo Bianchi, the direction of the show was entrusted to Davide Marranchelli and the choice of scenery and costumes to Anna Bonomelli.
The Illica Festival is organized by the Comune of Castell'Arquato in collaboration with Antea, Antonella Balestrazzi, and realized with the support of the Emilia-Romagna Region< /strong> and Piacenza and Vigevano Foundation. The Municipality of Castell'Arquato thanks all the sponsors for their precious contribution.