Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian composer of the Romanticism, who is best known for his outstanding operas. He shaped the Italian opera in the 19th century more than any other composer and had great success with almost all of his works. Even today his compositions, such as "Nabucco", "Rigoletto", "La Traviata" and "Aida" are part of the standard program of numerous opera houses and music festivals.

Musical work

The great opera composer Giuseppe Verdi was born in 1813 and grew up in modest circumstances. Due to his exceptional talent some benefactors made it possible for him to receive a good musical education, so he early started to write first compositions. Yet at age 15, he successfully performed in public for the first time. When Verdi moved to Milan in 1832, he was warmly received by the composer and concertmaster of the Teatro Alla Scala di Milano. 6 years later, he celebrated his first noticeable success with his opera composition “Oberto conte di San Bonifacio” at La Scala.

Shortly after the surprising death of his children and his wife, Verdi’s comic opera “Un giorno di regno” received only scorn and derision, which is why he almost gave up his work as composer. Fortunately the director of La Scala Bartolomeo Merelli managed to convince the virtuoso of the contrary: A little later, his opera “Nabucco” was a huge success and Verdi rapidly became internationally known as the epitome of the Italian art of composition.

Subsequently he composed several operas within a short time, of which especially "Macbeth" and "Luisa Miller" can be mentioned as the greatest successes. In the meantime “failure” had already become a thing of the past for Verdi. After he had managed to create a stable economic base with his first operas, he retired from public life to fully concentrate on composing. The result is reflected in the so-called "trilogia populare", which represents the climax in Verdi’s musical creativity including the release of “Rigoletto”, “Il trovatore” and “La traviata”.

Giuseppe Verdi composed his musically best-thought-out works ("Aida", "Otello", "Falstaff") in his late creative period. Especially the work "Falstaff" is considered by many as the greatest comic opera ever. As the last of his many works, it celebrated an overwhelming success at its premiere in 1893 at La Scala- Ironically in the same place, where he had experienced his biggest failure with his first comic opera 50 years ago.

Characteristics & effects of Verdi’s oeuvre

Verdi’s oeuvre comprising not less than 26 operas led the Italian opera to its perfection in the 19th century. Many of his pieces are now part of the standard repertoire of the world's most important cultural institutions. Unlike the works of his opponent Richard Wagner, Verdi's stage works mainly focus on the libretto. The orchestra fades into the background, while the voices and the cantabile enjoy top priority. In addition, Verdi attached the utmost importance to the melodic-rhythmic expression of his works in order to illustrate the drama of the situation. The composer was particularly inspired by the dramatists Shakespeare and Schiller.

Most significant works (Selection):

Oper 1842 – “Nabucco“
Oper 1844 – “I due Foscari”
Oper 1847 – “Macbeth”
Oper 1851 – “Rigoletto”
Oper 1853 – “Il trovatore”
Oper 1853 – “La traviata”
Oper 1855 – “I vespri siciliani”
Oper 1857 – “Simon Boccanegra”
Oper 1859 – “Un ballo in maschera”
Oper 1867 – “Don Carlos”
Oper 1871 – “Aida”
Oper 1887 – “Otello”
Oper 1893 – “Falstaff”

Ave Maria (“Messa di Gloria”), 1833
Messa da Requiem (“Manzoni-Requiem”), 1874