This post is also available in: Italian

The Town Ambassador Award goes to Karen Lauria Saillant, in recognition of her endless love for Città della Pieve:  a love renewed every year since 2004, with a brand-new opera given its debut performance by young, promising musicians from America and – over the years – more than 75 other countries, all in the Teatro degli Avvalorati theater.

This year, seeing that a live event was impossible, the town organised a retrospective on Karen’s ties with this splendid village in the Umbria region.

Set up in the streets of the historic core of Città della Pieve, the exhibition told the story of the International Opera Theater of Philadelphia.

It was here that we first met Karen Lauria Saillant, in this small Umbrian town which  transforms itself, year after year, into a center of attraction for opera lovers from all over the world.

Karen is an American born and bred in Philly, Pa.. A strong, determined women, she has overcome countless obstacles, and enjoyed an immense amount of satisfaction, while bringing into being, in Città della Pieve, a community of artists and musicians, many of them known throughout the world, and all of whom brought their passion for music and life to the virtual stage of her Fire. The actual Fire Pub is the oldest establishment offering live rock music in all of Philadelphia, and also the first to be opened and operated by a woman. An iconic part of Philadelphia’s rock music scene, its stage has hosted, over the years, an endless variety of musicians from all over the world.

The origins of the connection with Città della Pieve

Karen began her career as a singer, and then a teacher, of opera. For the last 16 years, as the  artistic director of the International Opera Theater of Philadelphia, she has brought her art, together with countless young people who share her passion, to this village in Umbria.

“International Staged Opera Live” is the event that Karen has held in Città della Pieve since 2004, motivated by her devotion to both opera and teaching.

There have been 16 years of performances, many of them presented for the very first time on the stage of the Teatro Accademia degli Avvalorati (link to article on the theater). 

A 16-year history of music and emotions that, due to the pandemic, seemed destined not to reach its 17th year.

But music can overcome any obstacle…

The mark left by Karen and her work is here to stay, an integral part of the town’s history, with a treasured place in the hearts of its residents.

Karen’s Opera could not simply shut down.

In fact, the municipal council of Città della Pieve organised 20 days of digital presentations and performances in honor of Karen, her work and all the artists who were so eager to bring their music back to Città della Pieve.

Twenty days of events during which the history of these last 16 years of opera  was on display in the village streets, thanks to interactive QR codes that visitors could use to see and hear operas staged in Città della Pieve in years past, in addition to receiving intriguing information on the initiative, all directly on their smart phones.

“A magical tie between Città della Pieve and the International Opera Theater of Philadelphia”.

A bond that will never be broken, after all these years in which it has brought the two communities together, thanks to  their shared love for music.

Karen has built bridges between different generations, ethnic groups and talents from all over the world.

More than 70 children, together with their families, have visited from America, during these last 16 years, to study, learn and sing in the operas performed in Città della Pieve.

No small number of musicians from Philadelphia have made their debut on the stage of the theater of this Umbrian village.

Driven by her passion for her work and her music,  Karen’s indomitable spirit has allowed her to bring together, over the last 16 years,  a wealth of talent and performing artists from all over the world, and of all ages.

In years to come, this love of hers will continue to prevail, no matter what difficulties she has to face.

 The Town Ambassador Award to Karen Lauria Saillant

In addition to bringing top-flight performances to Italy, Karen’s efforts have brought together two communities separated by an ocean, all thanks to her love and passion for music.

The participants, both younger and older generations, will always have a place in their hearts for Città della Pieve. Discoverplace’s “Town Ambassador Award” goes to a true builder of “cultural bridges”, honoring Karen together with the administration of Città della Pieve and its Mayor, Fausto Risini, with an  award reserved for those who have promoted their country of origin – or, in Karen’s case,  the village that won their heart – with love and unstinting enthusiasm throughout the world.

As was the case with Karen’s “International Stay at Home Festival”, which we had the pleasure of describing in one of our articles, there is no stopping the music, nor will the creativity of her artists ever cease to surprise us.

International Staged Opera Live was held for the 17th straight year (virtually, due to COVID 19) in the streets of Città della Pieve.

Digital performances and filmed pieces from years past were provided as part of a retrospective exhibit in the streets of the town’s historic core, allowing both residents and visitors to discover the ties and the art that bind Città della Pieve to both Karen and the International Opera Theater of Philadelphia.


As they say: “The show must go on!”


To see and hear operas from previous years: