Giuseppe Verdi – Master of the Opera

Giuseppe Verdi
(1813 – 1901)
Image by Giovanni Boldini

On October 9 or 10, 1813, famous Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi was born. He is primarily known for his romantic operas, and together with Richard Wagner, Verdi is considered the most influential composer of operas of the nineteenth century.

The future musician moved to Bosetto with his family very early in his life, where he also got taught in composition. In his early 20s, Verdi went on to Milan and took private lessons next to attending numerous plays. It is known that he enjoyed mostly German music in this period, which influenced him quite alot. When he returned to his hometown, he became a music master and was supported by Antonio Barezzi, who organized a few performances for Verdi.

Until then, Verdi was mainly unrecognized nationally and internationally. He worked on his second opera, but his wife and two children passed away during this period and his work could not succeed. But luckily Verdi continued and wrote Nabucco, which made him instantly famous in 1842. From there, Verdi was hit by a huge working period that lasted about 15 years. He created 14 operas and one of the most famous of these years was ‘Macbeth‘, which was first staged in 1847 and succeeded instantly.

In 1851, another masterpiece Verdi’s premiered, it was ‘Rigoletto‘ and based on Victor Hugo’s play. Verdi had to change major parts of the piece to satisfy the censorship. Still, his idea of the musical drama full of contemporary social and cultural aspects was a great success, and the composer was able to increase his fame all over Europe.

Giuseppe Verdi was one of the leading composers of his period, another was Richard Wagner. Both had a great influence on the music and culture of the 19th century but never spoke a nice word about each other, even though they never actually met. Verdi once even said that Wagner “invariably chooses, unnecessarily, the untrodden path, attempting to fly where a rational person would walk with better results“. And when Verdi’s Requiem was played, Wagner only commented that “it would be best not to say anything“. Verdi’s last opera was ‘Falstaff‘ and succeeded internationally and in the following period he published further, but smaller pieces.

After Verdi’s death, several works were re-interpreted, which kept the composer legend alive until this day. At yovisto, you may enjoy Verdi’s famous Messa di Requiem, recorded in 1970 in Rome with Luciano Pavarotti as tenor.

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