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Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901); ITA

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Giuseppe Verdi Giuseppe Verdi was to opera in the Italian tradition what Beethoven was to the symphony. When he arrived on the scene some had suggested that effective opera after Rossini was not possible. Verdi, however, took the form to new heights of drama and musical expression. Partisans see him as at least the equal of Wagner, even though his style and musical persona were of an entirely different cast. In the end, both Verdi's popular vein—as heard in the operas Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata—and his deeper side—found in Aida, Otello, and Falstaff—demonstrate his mastery and far-reaching development of Italian opera.

Verdi showed talent by the age of seven and even played organ at a local church. Around this time he was given an old piano, which he quickly learned to play with proficiency. He moved to Busseto in 1823 and began study the following year with Ferdinando Provesi. By age 15 he had become an assistant church organist and had already started composing. Beginning in 1832, he studied privately with Vincenzo Lavigna in Milan, after the Conservatory there turned him away.

He returned to Busseto and married Margherita Barezzi in 1836. Having achieved publication of some songs, he moved to Milan in 1839 and composed his first opera, Oberto. It was a success, though his next effort, Un giorno di regno, was an abject failure. Worse, Verdi's wife died during its composition. (Their two children had died in the previous two years.) Stunned and depressed, the composer struggled on to rebound with Nabucco (1842) and I lombardi (1843). Macbeth, Luisa Miller, and other operas came in the 1840s, most with great success.

Around 1847, Verdi developed a relationship with soprano Giuseppina Strepponi and the two lived together for many years on Verdi's farm, Sant'Agata, before finally marrying in 1859. In the period 1851-1853, the composer wrote three of his most popular operas. Rigoletto (1851) and Il trovatore (1853) were instant successes, but La traviata (1853) was a disappointment at its premiere, though a year later, with minor revisions, it was warmly received. After an extended excursion to Paris in 1853, Verdi returned to Busseto and turned out Simon Boccanegra (1857) and Un ballo in maschera (1859), both embroiling him in politics, an activity he was already immersed in, since he served in the local parliament and later in national parliament as senator. In St. Petersburg, Verdi's La forza del destino premiered in 1862 and Don Carlos in Paris in 1867.

Having relocated to Genoa, Verdi composed Aida in the years 1870-1871. Its Cairo premiere in 1871 was a success, but the composer then gave up opera, at least for a time. His String Quartet (1873) and Requiem (1874) showed his creative juices were still very much alive. His next opera, Otello, came finally in 1886, Verdi working slowly and getting sidetracked revising earlier operas. One more opera came from his pen, Falstaff, in 1893, which scored a stunning success. Critical opinion has it that his last three operas are his finest, that the elderly composer became bolder and more imaginative in his later years.

In these later years, Verdi also worked to found a hospital and, in Milan, a home for retired musicians. In 1897, Giuseppina Verdi died and the composer thereafter lived at the Grand Hotel in Milan, finding companionship with retired soprano Teresa Stolz. A year later, his Quatro pezzi sacri premiered in Paris. This would be the composer's last work. On January 21, 1901, Verdi suffered a stroke and died six days later.

© Robert Cummings, All Music Guide
Portions of Content Provided by All Music Guide.
© 2008 All Media Guide, LLC. All Music Guide is a registered trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.
Giuseppe Giuseppe Verdi was to opera in the Italian tradition what Beethoven was to the symphony. When he arrived on the... More
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Below are works by G.Verdi that every music lover should explore:
  • Stage Works
    • Aida (opera)
      1,797 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Prelude
        • Notable Movement: 3.Radames: Se quel guerrier io fossi!
        • Notable Movement: 4.Radames: Celeste Aida
        • Notable Movement: 9.Aida: Ritorna vincitor!
      • Act 2
        • Notable Movement: 8.Ramfis and Chorus: Gloria all'Egitto, ad Iside
        • Notable Movement: 9.Orchestra: Triumphal March
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 3.Aida: Qui Radamès verrà!
        • Notable Movement: 4.Aida: O patria mia (O cieli azzurri)
      • Act 4
        • Notable Movement: 11.Ensemble: O terra, addio
    • Don Carlo (opera)
      982 tracks
      • Don Carlo (opera; 1883, 4 act version in Italian)
        • Act 3
          • Notable Movement: 10.O don fatal, o don crudel
        • Act 4
          • Notable Movement: 4.Tu che le vanità
    • Falstaff (commedia lirica)
      736 tracks
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 7.Dal labbro il canto estasïato vola
    • I Vespri siciliani (opera)
      319 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Overture
      • Act 5
        • Notable Movement: 2.Mercè, dilette amiche (bolero)
    • Il Trovatore (opera)
      1,706 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Sc.1: All'erta, all'erta
        • Notable Movement: 6.Sc.2: Che più t'arresti?
      • Act 2
        • Notable Movement: 1.Sc.1: Zigeunerchor. Chor. Vedi! le fosche notturne
        • Notable Movement: 6.Sc.1: Non son tuo figlio?
        • Notable Movement: 11.Sc.3: Tutto è deserto; 12.Sc.3: Il balen del suo sorriso; 13.Sc.3: Qual suono; 14.Sc.3: Per me, ora fatale
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 10.Sc.6: Ah! sì, ben mio
        • Notable Movement: 13.Sc.6: Di quella pira
      • Act 4
        • Notable Movement: 4.Sc.1: Miserere d'un alma già vicina
    • La forza del destino (opera)
      952 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Sinfonia (Overture)
      • Act 4
        • Notable Movement: 5.Pace, pace, mio Dio!
    • La Traviata (opera)
      2,034 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Prelude
        • Notable Movement: 2.Introduction: Dall' invito trascorso è già l'ora
        • Notable Movement: 3.Brindisi: Libiamo, ne' lieti calici
        • Notable Movement: 5.Un dì felice
        • Notable Movement: 8.È strano! Ah, fors'è lui
      • Act 2
        • Notable Movement: 1.Lunge da lei De' miei bollenti spiriti
        • Notable Movement: 4.Pura siccome un angelo
        • Notable Movement: 13.Di Provenza il mar
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 1.Prelude
        • Notable Movement: 3.Teneste la promessa. Attendo, attendo, né a me giungon mai! Addio del passato
        • Notable Movement: 6.Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo
        • Notable Movement: 8.Ah, Violetta! Voi? Signor?
    • Luisa Miller (opera)
      348 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Overture
      • Act 2
        • Notable Movement: 6.Quando le sere al placido
    • Macbeth (opera)
      629 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 8.Vieni, t'affretta!...Or tutti, sorgete
      • Act 2
        • Notable Movement: 2.La luce langue
      • Act 4
        • Notable Movement: 2.O figli, o figli miei!
        • Notable Movement: 3.Ah, la paterna mano
    • Nabucco (Nabucodonosor; opera)
      705 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Sinfonia (Overture)
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 4.Va pensiero, sull'ali dorate (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves)
    • Otello (opera)
      1,316 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Una vela! Un vesillo!
        • Notable Movement: 2.Esultate! L'orgoglio musulmano
        • Notable Movement: 8.Già nella notte dansa
      • Act 2
        • Notable Movement: 3.Credo in un Dio crudel
        • Notable Movement: 11.Si, pel ciel marmoreo giuro!
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 5.Dio! mi potevi scagliar...Ma, o pianto, o duol!
      • Act 4
        • Notable Movement: 4.Piangea cantando (Willow song)
        • Notable Movement: 5.Ave Maria
        • Notable Movement: 9.Niun mi tema
    • Rigoletto (opera)
      1,470 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Preludio
        • Notable Movement: 3.Sc.1: Questa o quella per me pari sono
        • Notable Movement: 20.Sc.12: È il sol dell' anima
        • Notable Movement: 22.Sc.13: Caro nome
      • Act 2
        • Notable Movement: 1.Sc.1: Ella mi fu rapita!
        • Notable Movement: 2.Sc.1: Parmi veder le lagrime
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 2.Sc.2: La donna è mobile
        • Notable Movement: 4.Sc.3: Bella figlia dell'amore (Quartet); 5.Sc.3: M'odi! ritorna a casa
    • Un ballo in maschera (opera)
      1,051 tracks
      • Act 1
        • Notable Movement: 1.Prelude
        • Notable Movement: 19.Di' tu se fedele
      • Act 3
        • Notable Movement: 2.Morro, ma prima in grazia
        • Notable Movement: 4.Eri tu, che macchiavi
        • Notable Movement: 11.Forse la soglia attinse
        • Notable Movement: 12.Ma se m'è forza perderti
  • Vocal Works
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