Historic Opera Performance to Take Place Aboard Italian Navy's Giuseppe Garibaldi Aircraft Carrier

The performance will mark 100 years since Puccini's death.

By: Jun. 17, 2024
Historic Opera Performance to Take Place Aboard Italian Navy's Giuseppe Garibaldi Aircraft Carrier
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The Times reports that The pride of the Italian navy, the Giuseppe Garibaldi, an esteemed aircraft carrier with over 40 years of service in combat air operations in Libya, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, is set to be decommissioned later this year. Before its retirement, the veteran ship will host a groundbreaking event: the first-ever opera performance aboard a naval ship.

This historic event will feature two staged performances of Giacomo Puccini’s "Madama Butterfly" on June 22-23 in the Gulf of La Spezia, southeast of Genoa. The performances are part of the celebrations marking 100 years since Puccini’s death.

From its home port in Taranto, Puglia, Italy’s first aircraft-carrying cruiser has been making its way around the coast to reach the Gulf of La Spezia. Once docked, a 20 x 8m stage with an orchestra pit at its center will be constructed on the flight deck. Two helicopters will flank the stage, with the control tower serving as a dramatic backdrop. An audience of 450, including local dignitaries and navy personnel, will be seated on the deck.

The maritime setting will enhance the opera, drawing listeners into the story of a US naval officer who marries a young Japanese geisha in Nagasaki and deserts her, only to return years later. "Spectators will turn their heads towards the gulf and will feel like they are in Nagasaki Bay," said Paolo Panizza, the stage director.

The event, a collaboration between the municipality of La Spezia and Amici del Loggiato, an association promoting young singers, is fully booked.

Due to the flight deck’s lack of natural resonance, the performers, led by Chinese soprano Erica WenMeng Gu in the title role, will be miked and amplified through a sophisticated system of speakers. "This is something that has never been done before," said Roberto Servile, the conductor. "We are somewhat fumbling around in the dark."

The cast has been preparing on dry land for the last three weeks and will have only three and a half days to rehearse on board.


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