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Posts Tagged ‘retirement home’

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Photo: Diego Rinaldi/Casa di riposo per musicisti, Fondazione Giuseppe Verdi
The exterior of Casa Verdi, founded by famed Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi in the late 1890s.

Facebook has decided I like stories about kind people because I linger over some with spooling captions. It keeps showing me items that are “Similar to Posts You’ve Interacted With.” It may be that I like such stories, but I never click on Facebook’s suggested links because I definitely don’t want Facebook knowing anything about what I like. (OK, I admit that’s a lost cause.) If the site weren’t the best way for me to connect with Carole, who I have known since nursery school and who has Parkinson’s now, I don’t think I’d be there at all.

The following post on the kindness of Giuseppe Verdi didn’t come from Facebook. It came from a site that gives me loads of other ideas for blog posts, ArtsJournal.com.

It’s where I learned about Rebecca Rosman’s National Public Radio [NPR] report on “Casa Verdi, a retirement home for opera singers and musicians founded by the famed Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi more than 100 years ago.

“Soprano Lina Vasta spent her career performing in Italian operas around the world. Twenty years ago, she settled at Casa Verdi. The tiny singer, who uses a cane to get around, won’t reveal her age (through a translator she admits to being ‘over 65’), but she still enjoys singing bits of The Barber of Seville around the home.

“Vasta came to Casa Verdi with her husband when they both retired from singing. Since he died, this is all she has. But with ‘a beautiful house, a piano, a very nice garden, nothing is missing here — it’s perfect. Grazie, Verdi,’ she says. …

” ‘In Italy, Verdi isn’t considered only a composer, only a musician, but kind of a national hero,’ [Biancamaria Longoni, the assistant director of Casa Verdi], says. ‘He used his operas to give voice to people — to humble people, to modest people, to poor people.’

“Many of Verdi’s own former colleagues found themselves living in poverty toward the end of their lives. At that time, there were no pensions for musicians in Italy. …

“Using his own fortune, Verdi built the retirement home for opera singers and musicians, a neo-Gothic structure that opened in 1899. The composer died less than two years later, but he made sure the profits from his music copyrights kept the home running until the early 1960s, when they expired. Today guests pay a portion of their monthly pension to cover basic costs – food and lodging — while the rest comes from donations. …

“Casa Verdi has an extra 20 rooms set aside for conservatory students aged 18 to 24. … Armando Ariostini, a baritone in his early 60s, comes to Casa Verdi every Wednesday to visit the guests, some of whom are his former colleagues. And while Ariostini himself is still several years away from retirement, he says he knows exactly where he’ll be hanging up his hat once he leaves the opera stage for good.”

More at NPR, here.

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The New York Times had a story not long ago about friendships between young people and old people in Cleveland. How does it happen? They live in the same retirement home.

John Hanc describes a home’s musical evening: “Janet Hall grimaces as she hits an off note on her violin, one of the few heard here at Judson Manor’s Friday afternoon recital, held in the chandeliered ballroom settings of the first-floor lounge of this residence for older people.

“As an audience of 56 mostly older adults watches expectantly, Ms. Hall, 78, quickly recovers from the miscue. She slides her bow across the strings of her violin, drawing out the sweet and sonorous notes of a Gabriel Fauré suite.

“Looking on and smiling is her accompanist on piano, Daniel Parvin, a 25-year-old doctoral candidate student at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

“Over a half-century apart in age, Ms. Hall and Mr. Parvin share some things in common besides this duet. A home, for one: Both are residents at Judson Manor, formerly a luxury hotel, built in 1923, in Cleveland’s University Circle section. A love of music, for another …

“Here at Judson, young and old play nicely together, part of an intergenerational program that has led to harmonious relationships beyond the concerts. … The artist-in-residence program provides furnished one-bedroom apartments to three graduate students from the Cleveland Institute of Music at no charge, for the duration of their studies. In exchange, the students perform regular concerts at Judson Manor. …

“The students were required to submit a résumé and an essay. ‘Basically, “Why I wouldn’t mind living in a senior residence,” ‘ says [Richard K.] Gardner, a committee member.  …

“Experts say there is much to be learned from an intergenerational living program based around the arts like the Judson program. ‘We’ve heard people talking about doing something like this, but I’ve never seen it at this level, sustained and consistent,’ says Gay Hanna, executive director for the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington, a nonprofit organization designed to promote creative arts programs for older adults. ‘It’s a bellwether for the future.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times  
Tiffany Tieu, a violinist and student at the Cleveland Institute, talks with Peggy Kennell. “When I tell people I’m living in a retirement home, they think I’m joking,” Ms. Tieu says.

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