Home > Italy, Opera, San Diego, The Arts, Uncategorized > Viterbis give $1 million to San Diego Opera

Viterbis give $1 million to San Diego Opera

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)– San Diego Opera has announced a $1 million gift from Erna and Andrew Viterbi. The first $500,000 of the gift  will be used to underwrite the “Community Conversations on Faith  and Freedom” lecture series in conjunction with Verdi’s opera Nabucco, the second opera in the San Diego Opera 2010 season. 

Portions of the gift will also be used to underwrite the production of the opera, making Erna and Andrew the Lead Sponsors for Nabucco. The second half of the gift is designated to the 2011  International Season where San Diego Opera will honor the Viterbi family as the Season Sponsor.

 “Our interest in opera generally, and in this production of Nabucco in particular, derives in part from our cultural  heritage,” comment Andrew and Erna Viterbi. “Having inherited  from our parents a love of opera, especially Verdi’s masterpieces, as well as respect for our history, we have found  San Diego Opera productions, so masterfully directed and  performed, resonate with our interests and passions.”

 “Community Conversations on Faith and Freedom” is a free, citywide lecture series that explores the various aspects of  Verdi’s opera Nabucco. Each lecture will offer insight into the music, history and biblical origin of Nabucco. Lectures will  be held at Lead Partner venues around the community.

The Lead  Partners for these lectures are the San Diego Natural History Museum, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Congregation Beth  Israel and the San Diego Museum of Art. A full schedule of the lecture series can be found below. 

 Verdi’s Nabucco is considered the opera that cemented his reputation as one of the world’s greatest composers. The story is drawn from ancient history and begins with the destruction of the  Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco), the King of Babylon. The opera follows the Israelites as they struggle for freedom as Babylonian slaves. Noted for a demanding soprano role (Abigaille) the opera also includes one of the most well- known choruses “Va, pensiero” which is so beloved by Italians that is was once considered for their national anthem.

 “Erna and Andrew Viterbi have made a spectacular and deeply appreciated gift at a most critical time for San Diego Opera. The economy has taken a big bite out of arts funding and a gift of  this significance allows the Company to continue to produce opera  with the best artists in the international arena today,” comments San Diego Opera’s Ian Campbell.  “The entire board of  directors, management and community are indebted to Erna and Andrew for their generosity and thoughtful philanthropy.”

 Italy holds a special place in the hearts of Erna and Andrew Viterbi. Andrew was four when his family fled Italy just days before World War II broke out. Andrew began his academic career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology followed by graduate school at University of Southern California (USC). From 1963 to 1973, he served as a professor at the UCLA School of Engineering  and Applied Science. Andrew is a co-founder of LINKABIT Corporation and a co-founder of Qualcomm, where his Viterbi  Algorithm and other inventions contributed to creating the cellular technology used today. Dr. Viterbi is the founder of The  Viterbi Group, LLC, an equity investment fund that advises and invests in early and emerging companies that are pioneering innovative technologies.

Erna Finci Viterbi was born in Sarajevo, a descendant of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain. In 1941, during World War II, the Finci family fled German-occupied Yugoslavia for the Italian-occupied zone from which they were deported and interned in the Parma region of Italy. In 1943, when the Nazis occupied Italy, they were saved from deportation to extermination camps by the bravery of the good people of Gramignazzo di Sissa, the village where they had been interned. Other Italians helped them escape to Switzerland, where they waited out the war. In 1950, they resettled in California, where Erna met Andrew Viterbi; the two were married in 1958, and today they have three children and five  grandchildren.

 Community Conversations on Faith and Freedom lectures reflect the themes and experiences of the Viterbi family’s flight to freedom.  All lectures are free and open to the public although reservations are required.

 Nabucco, Israel and Babylon: The Impact of Exile on the Birth of Judaism and Christianity.Presented by Dr. Nicolas Reveles, San Diego Opera’s Geisel Director of Education, and Dr. Risa Levitt-Kohn, Director of  Judaic Studies at San Diego State University.Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 7 PM. San Diego Natural History Museum – Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theatre. 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

 Lessons from the Exile: Babylon Revisted,Presented by Dr. Nicolas Reveles, San Diego Opera’s Geisel Director of Education, and Rabbi Michael Berk, Congregation Beth Israel. Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7 PM. Congregation Beth Israel – 9001 Towne Center Dr., San Diego, CA 92122

By the Rivers of Babylon: Judaism, Empire and Exile, Presented by Dr. Nicolas Reveles, San Diego Opera’s Geisel Director of Education and Dr. William Propp, Director of Judaic Studies Program at University of California San Diego. Monday, February 8, 2010 at 7:30 PM. Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center – Garfield Theatre – 4126 Executive Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037

Nabucco: The Jewish Story in Art and Opera. Presented by Dr. Nicolas Reveles, San Diego Opera’s Geisel Director of Education and a curator from the San Diego Museum of  Art’s European Collection. Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 7 PM. San Diego Museum of Art – 1450 El Prado, San Diego,  CA 92101

 All events are free but an RSVP is required. Please visit http://www.sdopera.com/Operas/CommunityConversations/ for more information and to reserve your seat.

Preceding provided by San Diego Opera

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