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Italian maestro will lead Rome's Teatro dell'Opera orchestra in playing Vivaldi and Verdi to mark pope's seventh anniversary

The Italian maestro Riccardo Muti will conduct a concert in the Vatican in honour of Pope Benedict XVI, the second big name to perform for the pope this spring. La Scala opera house announced last week that Daniel Barenboim would conduct Beethoven's Ninth Symphony when the pope visits Milan on 1 June.

According to a statement on his website, Muti will lead Rome's Teatro dell'Opera orchestra in selections from Vivaldi and Verdi in the 11 May concert, which is being offered to the pope by Italy's president in honour of the seventh anniversary of his election to the pontificate.

Benedict is a classical music aficionado and plays the piano himself.

It's not the first time Muti will conduct for a pope: he conducted selections of Verdi in 1983 when Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to attend a performance at La Scala.

Muti left La Scala in 2005 amid bitter controversy over artistic and programming differences and is currently music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

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