Italian opera singing has earned a spot on the UN’s intangible cultural heritage list, recognising it as a “living art form,” according to UNESCO.
The practice, originating in the late 1500s in Florence, boasts a rich history with renowned composers such as Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Rossini, and Verdi. UNESCO said in a statement, “Italian opera singing is a physiologically controlled way of singing that enhances the carrying power of the voice in acoustic spaces such as auditoriums, amphitheatres, arenas and churches.
“Performed by people of all genders, it is associated with specific facial expressions and body gestures and involves a combination of music, drama, acting and staging.”
Italy’s cultural minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, hailed the decision as “historic” and a significant acknowledgment of “bel canto” (beautiful singing). Beatrice Venezi, a music adviser to the culture minister, expressed pride in the opera community, emphasising its fundamental role in Italian culture.
Italy’s first opera
Considered Italy’s first opera, Jacopo Peri’s Dafne, opened in Florence in 1598. Verdi, a monumental 19th-century composer, contributed masterpieces like Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Otello.
Milan’s La Scala theatre marked the start of the opera season with Verdi’s Don Carlo on Wednesday.
What else does Italy have on the intangible cultural heritage list?
Italy’s contributions to the intangible cultural heritage list already includes practices like Sardinian tenor singing, the Mediterranean diet, and the art of glass beads.
Despite an unsuccessful attempt to add Italian espresso coffee last year, Coldiretti, Italy’s largest agricultural association, is advocating for Italian cooking to be the country’s next nominee, citing its global prevalence and appreciation.