Happy 200th birthday, Giuseppe Verdi

In 1987, 60 Minutes' Morley Safer told the remarkable story of Casa Verdi, a retirement home in Milan that Verdi built for musicians and singers

This week on 60 Minutes, composer Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Rigoletto" was spotlighted in a story about the Metropolitan Opera, and it couldn't have fallen on a better month--October 10th marked Verdi's bicentennial.

Verdi is one of the world's most celebrated composers. His classic works include "Il Trovatore," "La Traviata," and "Aida." But Verdi's legacy extends far beyond his music.

In 1987, 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer traveled to Milan, Italy, to tell the story of Casa Verdi, a retirement home Verdi built for musicians and opera singers right before he died in 1901.

The remarkable story, called "Curtain Call," introduces viewers to the residents of Casa Verdi, all of whom were granted a final encore in their retirements by Verdi himself.

"Verdi wanted to give back something to the older singers and musicians, the people who helped him achieve his greatness," Safer said in the original story.

As you'll see in the piece, Casa Verdi houses dozens of elderly prima donnas and former members of the Italian opera chorus who never quite made it.

To pay for it, Verdi willed his vast fortune-- the royalties from all his operas-- and when those funds ran dry in the '60s, other benefactors like opera star Luciano Pavarotti and the Met helped to keep the house up and running.

The residents of Casa Verdi are a flamboyant, elderly bunch: Some of them keep to themselves, but others need no invitation to perform. They can be seen practicing their vibratos in the common areas, performing their choreographed routines from decades past in the halls, or gazing through opera memorabilia in their rooms.

"If heaven is the living memory of those who've touched us, then Giuseppe Verdi will live forever right here in the house that Verdi built," Safer said in the original story.

In one of the final scenes, the singers of Casa Verdi performed "Va, Pensiero" -the song of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's opera "Nabucco." Nearly 30 years later, Safer said that performance still resonates.

"As off key as it was and sung by fading voices, it still gives me the shivers," Safer told 60 Minutes Overtime. "I can think of no finer tribute to a great composer and an even greater man."

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