So you think you know Verdi?
more personal (though censors disliked his take on aristocrats in Rigoletto). Increasing rejection of earlier operatic “standard forms”, experimentation with innovative forms, and increasing realism.

Late Period to 1871

Longer, larger, more in French Grand Opera style - where colour and spectacle are essential to the drama - culminating in Aida (1871). Our offerings will be Simon Boccanegra (1857) Don Carlo (1867) and Aida.

Final Period

Along with the Requiem we now have an even more developed complex and vivid expression of emotion, mood and nature in the last operas. We will look at Otello (1887) and his final opera Falstaff (1893).

Friday April 27th

We’ll introduce and discuss Verdi, illustrated by excerpts from Nabucco (full opera here). More of Nabucco next week.

Quick Links

Wikipedia and Britannica - excellent full accounts. Brilliant critical essay on Verdi by Charles Rosen
Through a long and productive life(1813-1901) Giuseppi Verdi changed the nature of Italian opera forever with his 28 operas. His complex plots and well-drawn characters were not suited to the brilliance of bel canto singing (Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini before him). He needed romantic and dramatic expression instead, which also led him to modify, even reject, the prevailing opera format of oratorio- like arias and duets, using them instead to realistically express dramatic developments. Choruses too ceased to be background underlinings of events but becane expressions of the personalities and intentions and longings of specific groups. Verdi was little influenced by his contemporary Wagner. Instead of the latter’s leitmotifs - musical phrases specific to particular characters or ideas - he developed the hard-to-define idea of the tinta or colour of an opera - an overall musical style specific to it, whose modifications accentuate dramatic and emotional developments while providing a coherence to the work in the ear of the audience. Verdi called it his “golden thread”. Italy was in frequent civil war during his life as it struggled to free itself from foreign
domination and unite its warring states (the “risorgimento” movement). Signs of this nationalistic longing (which he supported) appear in several operas, but in others he retreats to more personal plots as the censors cracked down on such themes. Verdi’s operatic output is commonly divided into four periods, each showing particular styles and developments.

Early period to 1849

Nationalistic or political/social plots marked by complex harmonies, simple orchestration and big choruses. We will look at Nabucco (1842) which brought him fame, Ernani (1844), Attila (1846) and Macbeth (1847).

Middle Period to 1959

We will look at Il Trovatore and La Traviata (both 1853) and Rigoletto (1851). The topics are much