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Giuseppe Verdi

October 10, 1813 - January 27, 1901
born in Le Roncole, Parma, Italy, composed during the Romantic period
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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Verdi - Requiem · Quattro pezzi sacri / Orgonasova · von Otter · Canonici . A. Miles · Gardiner

Disc 1
Title: Requiem Mass, For Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)
Disc 2
Title: Sacred Pieces (4), For Chorus & Orchestra (Quattro Pezzi Sacri)
x

Track List: Montserrat Caballe Sings Verdi

Disc 1
Title: I Vespri Siciliani, Opera (Les Vêpres Siciliennes)
Title: Il Trovatore, Opera
Title: Rigoletto, Opera
Title: Aida, Opera
Title: Un Ballo In Maschera, Opera
Title: Otello, Opera
Title: La Traviata, Opera
Disc 2
Title: Alzira, Opera
Title: Un Giorno Di Regno (Il Finto Stanislao)
Title: I Lombardi Alla Prima Crociata, Opera
Title: I Due Foscari, Opera
Title: Attila
Title: Il Corsaro, Opera
Title: Macbeth, Opera
Title: Aroldo
Title: Nabucco, Opera (Nabucodonosor)
x

Track List: Verdi

Title: Rigoletto, Opera
Title: Un Ballo In Maschera, Opera
Title: La Traviata, Opera
Title: Simon Boccanegra, Opera
Title: Ernani, Opera
Title: Il Trovatore, Opera
Title: Don Carlo, Opera
Title: La Forza Del Destino, Opera
x

Track List: Verdi - La Traviata / Cotrubas · Domingo · Milnes · Bayerisches Staatsorchester · Carlos Kleiber

Disc 1
Title: La Traviata, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi - Messa Da Requiem / Gheorghiu · Barcellona · Alagna · Konstantinov · Berliner Philharmoniker · Abbado

Disc 1
Title: Requiem Mass, For Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi - Nabucco / Cappuccilli, Domingo, Dimitrova, Nesterenko, Valentini-Terrani, Deutschen Oper Berlin, Sinopoli

Disc 1
Title: Nabucco, Opera (Nabucodonosor)
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi - Simon Boccanegra / Freni, Cappuccilli, Carreras, Ghiaurov, van Dam, Foiani, Teatro alla Scala, Abbado

Disc 1
Title: Simon Boccanegra, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Falstaff

Disc 1
Title: Falstaff, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Falstaff

Disc 1
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Il Trovatore (complete opera) EMI Great Recordings of the Century with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Herbert von Karajan, Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Disc 1
Title: Il Trovatore, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Il Trovatore (complete opera) with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Herbert von Karajan, Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Disc 1
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: La Forza del Destino

Disc 1
Title: La Forza Del Destino, Opera
Disc 2
Disc 3
x

Track List: Verdi: Luisa Miller

Disc 1
Title: Luisa Miller, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Macbeth (complete opera live 1952) with Maria Callas, Enzo Mascherini, Victor de Sabata, Orchestra & Chorus of La Scala, Milan

Disc 1
Title: Macbeth, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Messa solenne

x

Track List: Verdi: Otello

x

Track List: Verdi: Overtures & Preludes

Title: La Forza Del Destino, Opera
Title: Luisa Miller, Opera
Title: Nabucco, Opera (Nabucodonosor)
Title: Aida, Opera
Title: La Traviata, Opera
Title: Macbeth, Opera
Title: La Traviata, Opera
Title: Don Carlo, Opera
Title: I Vespri Siciliani, Opera (Les Vêpres Siciliennes)
x

Track List: Verdi: Requiem

Disc 1
Title: Requiem Mass, For Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Requiem Mass; Sacred Pieces

Disc 1
Disc 2
Title: Sacred Pieces (4), For Chorus & Orchestra (Quattro Pezzi Sacri)
x

Track List: Verdi: Rigoletto

Disc 1
Title: Rigoletto, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Rigoletto (Complete Opera); Maria Callas; Tito Gobbi; Giuseppe di Stefano

Disc 1
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

Disc 1
Title: Simon Boccanegra, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera

Disc 1
Title: Un Ballo In Maschera, Opera
Disc 2
x

Track List: Villazon - Verdi

Title: Oberto, Conte Di San Bonifacio, Opera
Title: I Due Foscari, Opera
Title: Brindisi I ("Mescetemi Il Vino!"), Song For Voice & Piano
Title: L'esule ("Vedi! La Bianca Luna"), Song For Voice & Piano
Title: I Lombardi Alla Prima Crociata, Opera
Title: In Solitaria Stanza, Song For Voice & Piano
Title: Il Corsaro, Opera
Title: Rigoletto, Opera
Title: La Traviata, Opera
Title: Un Ballo In Maschera, Opera
Title: Don Carlo, Opera
Title: Requiem Mass, For Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)
Title: Falstaff, Opera
Title: Brindisi II ("Mescetemi Il Vino!"), Song For Voice & Piano