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Italian opera, a new World Heritage listing, honored at Verona gala

June 8, 2024 - 16:56 By Yonhap
Italian President Sergio Mattarella (fourth from left) and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (second from right) attend a gala concert at the Verona Arena to celebrate the recognition by UNESCO of the Italian art of opera singing, in Verona, Italy, Friday, local time. (AP-Yonhap)

ROME (DPA) -- Italy celebrated the inclusion of Italian opera singing on the World Heritage List with a gala concert at the Arena of Verona on Friday night that was broadcast on national television.

The concert, presided over by star Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, featured performances by greats including German and Peruvian tenors Jonas Kaufmann and Juan Diego Flórez.

There was also an orchestra of 160 musicians and a choir of 300 singers.

There were 20,000 spectators at the sold-out arena in the northern Italian city. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella sat in the seats of honor.

The gala marked the start of this year's opera season in the Arena of Verona, which runs until September 7. The program includes classics such as "Aida," "La Bohème," "Tosca" and "Turandot."

The centuries-old art of Italian opera singing was added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage late last year.

"Opera singing in Italy is a physiologically controlled way of singing that enhances the carrying power of the voice in acoustic spaces such as amphitheaters and churches." UNESCO, the UN's cultural agency, wrote.

"It is associated with specific facial expressions and body gestures and involves a combination of music, drama, acting and staging."