Giuseppe Verdi

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About Giuseppe Verdi

Arguably opera’s most popular composer, Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi transformed the stricter bel canto style of predecessors Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini into structurally fluid, psychologically nuanced, and viscerally thrilling celebrations of human existence. Born to an innkeeper in Emilia-Romagna in 1813, Verdi performed in the church from an early age and debuted his first opera, Oberto, at La Scala in 1839. Three years later, Nabucco brought him overnight fame and Verdi entered what he called his “galley years,” composing an opera roughly every eight months until 1851, with Rigoletto. This was the first of three melodramatic masterpieces (alongside Il Trovatore and La Traviata) about families crippled by passion, which Verdi followed with epic studies of power like 1871’s Aida. He entered semi-retirement in 1874 after another masterpiece, the non-operatic Requiem, but re-emerged with Otello and Falstaff, which premiered in 1887 and 1893, respectively. These formally innovative through-composed works represent the artistic apex of an opera composer who, until his death in 1901, broke most of the form’s rules while always remaining faithful to its melodic magic.

Le Roncole, Parma, Italy
October 10, 1813

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