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X Illica Festival in Castell'Arquato 2023
Castell'Arquato (Piacenza), one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and the birthplace of Luigi Illica, pays homage to the illustrious librettist and playwright every summer with a musical festival, this year entitled 'Surreal Realisms'
Subscription to the three shows €38
From 4 to 8 July 2023 the charming medieval village of Castell'Arquato will host the tenth edition of the Festivals Illica, a traditional summer musical event that returns to enliven the most evocative places of this town of timeless charm, perched in a strategic position on the Colli Piacentini.

The Festival pays homage to the Arquatese Luigi Illica (1857-1919), one of the most important Italian librettists, playwright, poet and journalist. Illica's works include the librettos of very famous operas, such as Puccini's masterpieces – Bohème, Tosca, Butterfly (co-written with Giacosa), Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano, Iris by Pietro Mascagni and numerous others, written for Catalani, Franchetti, Alfano.

This year the review celebrates the tenth anniversary with a busy calendar of meetings and concerts ready to fill the most significant places of Castell'Arquato with notes, the famous Town Hall Square (Monumental Square), the Illica Museum, i Gardens of Palazzo Vigevani Gravaghi.

And right there Monumental Square will be the suggestive setting for the main event of the 2023 Festival, the staged representation of the opera Istrian wedding of Antonio Smarglia on booklet by Luigi Illica, scheduled for July 7 under the direction of the young man David Marranchelli. On the podium of the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic will rise Jacopo It buzzes. The libretto of the Wedding is considered Illica's 'Cavalleria Rusticana' and for several aspects, such as the popular setting and the dramatic epilogue triggered by jealousy, it can recall Verga's realist masterpiece, with the addition of the very realistic cynicism outlined in the figure of the father, who for economic convenience prefers to give his daughter in marriage to the rich suitor, rather than to the beloved but poor suitor.

“The only true realist is the visionary”. With this statement Federico Fellini defines his philosophy of "dreamlike realism" and it is perfectly fitting with what Luigi Illica was too. “At this year's Festival – says the artistic director Jacopo Brusa – we will then delve into the “realist” Illica of the Istrian Wedding by Antonio Smareglia, a “rebel” composer with a very peculiar style that draws from both the Italian and post-romantic German worlds”.

However, to best represent reality, you need to be visionaries in some way who know how to explore the territories of the "fantastic" and "surreal". All of this is experienced by Illica in an unpublished work never set to music until today, The 3001. In this booklet, sci-fi and comical at the same time, the "New Humanity" is made up of Numbers and Figures that carry "Regulators" who control every activity, guaranteeing order and equality, until an "external factor" puts everything into crisis.

To set the libretto of this three-act comic opera to music, last year the Illica Festival organized an international composition competition reserved for under 40s. The 3001 will have new life thanks to the winning team formed by the composer Voris Sarris, author of the music, and by the playwright Lisa Capaccioli for the adaptation and reworking of the libretto: the work, performed in concert form, will be presented in first ever the July 6 in Monumental Square, with the Philharmonic Toscanini directed by Riccardo whites.

Remaining in the category of the "surreal", an evening dedicated to Gioachino Rossini, a composer who was among the first to grasp its potential, could not be missing. There Soirée Musicale «à la Rossini», L8 July in the Vigevan Palace Gardensthe Gravaghi by the G. Nicolini Conservatory of Piacenza, will listen to the captivating modernity of a speeding train and other examples of Rossini's brilliant musical irony, typical of drawing-room evenings in mid-nineteenth-century Paris.

As is customary, the Illica Festival program is completed by follow-up meetings, guided tours is artistic performances in the streets and squares of Castell'Arquato.

The program

General calendar of the 10th Illica Festival – 2023

4th July Illica Museum (6.00 pm) Guided tour;
following, Municipal wine shop Vissi d'arte, the most famous arias by Luigi Illica curated by the singers of the Festival, with a final tasting of the Monterosso wine dedicated to Luigi Illica

July 5th Illica Museum (6.30 pm) Visit to the Museum and the village, a journey to discover the landscapes that inspired the works of Luigi Illica

July 6 Monumental Square (8.30 pm) Award ceremony and presentation of the winning project of the Il 3001 international composition competition

(21.30) 'The 3001Comic opera in three acts
Music by Voris Sarris on booklet by Luigi Illica, revised and supplemented by Lisa Capaccioli. World premiere in concert form.
With Marta Leung (Reginotta) Raffaele Feo (Son (later, 2) Lorenzo Liberali (American) Giacomo Pieracci (9) Alessandra Palomba (Madam 9)
Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic Orchestra, Chorus of the Illica Festival
Concert master and conductor Riccardo Bianchi

July 7 Gardens Palazzo Vigevani Gravaghi (5.30 pm) I present to you the opera, a listening guide conducted by Fabio Larovere; followed by presentation of the volume Antonio Smareglia and his world by Giuliana Stecchina

Monumental Square (8.30 pm)  33rd Luigi Illica International Prize

(21.30) Istrian wedding lyric drama in three acts
Music by Antonio Smareglia on booklet by Luigi Illica
With Sarah Tisba (Marussa) Graziano Dallavalle (Menico) Filippo Polinelli (Biagio) Giuseppe Infantino (Lorenzo) Francesco Samuele Venuti (Nicola) Giovanna Lanza (Luze)
Concert master and conductor Jacopo It buzzes
Directed by Davide Marranchelli, Sets and Costumes by Anna Bonomelli
Choir master, Riccardo Bianchi
Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic Orchestra, Chorus of the Illica Festival

July 8 Gardens Palazzo Vigevani Gravaghi (6pm) Presentation of the book Luigi Illica. A Bohemian Life Ronconi Prati Foundation – Libertà Editorial. The author Giangiacomo Schiavi talks with Massimo Baucia, Gianni Canova, Carlo Fontana

(19.00 )Soirée Musicale à la Rossini, concert for voice and piano by the students of the G. Nicolini Conservatory of Piacenza, soprano Valentina di Blasio, tenor Binbai Bayier, piano Ginevra Paniati

Ticket office

Subscription to the three shows €38

There is more

The Illica 2023 Festival is enriched by the delivery of Awards International Luigi Illica, assigned every two years by a jury of national importance to personalities who have distinguished themselves in the fields of music, journalism and literature. This year they will be rewarded Raina KabaivanskaGregory KundeDavide Luciano, Giangiacomo Schiavi is Gian Paolo Minardi.

To know more


3001, unpublished by Luigi Illica premiered at the Illica Festival . . .

Luigi Illica's "science fiction" masterpiece, never brought to the stage before . . .


Illica Festival 2023 – “Istrian Wedding” by Antonio Smareglia with libretto by . . .

The Festival celebrates the forgotten masterpiece of the brilliant Italian librettist, . . .

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IX Illica Festival in Castell'ArquatoIn Castell'Arquato, a village… more

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X Illica Festival in Castell'Arquato 2023

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