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Bertelsmann presents original documents by Giuseppe Verdi and unique cultural treasures from the Archivio Ricordi in Milan

Bertelsmann presents original documents by Giuseppe Verdi and unique cultural treasures from the Archivio Ricordi in Milan

  • Germany
  • For the first time, unique pieces of Italian opera history from the Bertelsmann-owned Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan will be on display at an exhibition in Germany. The international media group is opening the archive, which houses one of the world's most valuable music collections in private hands, to give it a wider audience and provide one of the highlights of Verdi Year 2013.
  • Bertelsmann AG
  • “The Enterprise of Opera” exhibition in Berlin to mark the “Verdi Year” provides insights into the genesis of two Verdi operas
  • Thomas Rabe: “Bertelsmann is taking responsibility for the restoration and digitization of important testimonies to opera history”

The “Enterprise of Opera” exhibition marks the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth on October 10 by tracing the creative process of Verdi’s last two operas “Otello” and “Falstaff” in a multifaceted and interactive way, from the earliest discussions with the composer to the first public performance of each work. Original scores, librettos, selected correspondence, sets and costume designs bring 19th century opera culture to life, and illustrate the creative collaboration between the music publisher Giulio Ricordi, the librettist Arrigo Boito, and the celebrated composer Giuseppe Verdi.

Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe says: “The Archivio Ricordi houses a wealth of exquisite treasures, and it has been part of Bertelsmann for many years. For us, this means a distinct responsibility to treat this culturally and historically significant legacy with great care, and to ensure its preservation for posterity. We are indexing and preserving the archive’s inventory according to the latest scientific and technical standards, and will open up access to these unique cultural treasures for a wide audience with the exhibition and an extensive digitization project. Bertelsmann is showcasing the Ricordi Archive as an example of music’s rich tradition, while actively shaping the digital future of music with the new BMG.”

Bertelsmann had acquired the iconic Italian music-publishing company Casa Ricordi in 1994, but later divested itself of the music company and the Ricordi music rights as part of its withdrawal from the traditional music business and divested itself of the music company and the Ricordi music rights. However, the associated Archivio Storico Ricordi and the rights to the Ricordi brand remained within the Group.

The archive inventory now contains 7,800 original scores of more than 600 operas – including valuable original manuscripts by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini – as well as about 10,000 librettos, 6,000 historical photographs and the company’s complete business correspondence from 1888 to 1962, which provides far-reaching insights into how the culture industry thought and worked at that time. As part of a comprehensive cataloging and digitization process, the Archive’s holdings are being restored where necessary, and also gradually turned into vivid virtual experiences.

Liz Mohn, spokeswoman for the Mohn family which owns Bertelsmann, founder of the internationally NEUE STIMMEN program to promote young opera talent, and a longstanding promoter of culture and music, welcomes the commitment: “I think it is very important that Bertelsmann gets involved here. We treat such cultural assets with great care and make them accessible to a wide audience. Music is a universal language. It connects people across nations, cultures and religions.”

Maestro Daniel Barenboim, General Music Director of Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden and Music Director of Milan’s La Scala, underlined the importance of the Archivio Ricordi for the music world and highlighted the special relationship that existed between the publisher Giulio Ricordi and the composer Giuseppe Verdi: “In Ricordi, Verdi found not only found a publisher, but an artistic and commercial partner – almost a soul mate. Their relationship went far beyond financial interests. I am convinced that Verdi especially admired Ricordi’s considerateness and the artistic appreciation that the publisher had for him.”

The exhibition “The Enterprise of Opera” can be seen at “Bertelsmann Unter den Linden 1” in Berlin from August 30th to September 15th, 2013. Admission is free. The exhibition then travels to the City Theater in Gütersloh (October 7th to 21st), and from there to Milan.

“The Enterprise of Opera: Verdi. Boito. Ricordi“


August 30th – September 15th, 2013
Bertelsmann Premises in Berlin
Unter den Linden 1
10117 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0) 30-520099 200
Free admission

For more information about the exhibition and the Archivio Storico Ricordi, please visit and/or

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