Giuseppe Verdi. Commemorating the 205th anniversary of the great composer’s birth
Giuseppe Verdi is a composer who made an invaluable contribution to the development of world music culture. His operas are an integral part of the classical repertoire of all theaters in the world. “La Traviata”, “Rigoletto”, “Aida” - the names of the works, familiar even to the listener, not familiar with classical music.
Throughout his creative career, Verdi wrote 26 operas, the motifs of which are somehow familiar to everyone, sometimes unconsciously. The formation of a musician was in stressful environment; his talent was plagued by constant confrontation. Nevertheless, the composer’s incredibly steadfast spirit and tremendous love for his work prevented him from taking the wrong turning.
Giuseppe Verdi was born on October 10, 1813 near Busseto. Currently, the annual competition of young opera singers named after the great composer is held in Busseto. Giuseppe’s family was provincial, of moderate means. The rich merchant and philanthropist Antonio Barezzi paid attention to the musically gifted child. At his insistence, the family moved to Busseto, where Giuseppe was able to start his first full music lessons. Ferdinando Provezi, director of the local music school and head of the city philharmonic society, became his teacher of musical composition. Verdi lived in Provezi's house for a long time, and later married his daughter, Margarita.
At the age of 18, Giuseppe was sent to Milan, funded by the city’s charitable society.
The paradox of the genius of Verdi is that the future creator of the Italian opera program works opera was not accepted into the Milan Conservatory. His performance of “Capriccio in A Major” by Heinrich Hertz met with the examiners’ negative reaction. The test on composition was cleared better - his airy melodies provoked approval, nevertheless, insufficient for admission into the Conservatory. Members of the Conservatory board did not see an exceptional talent in the young man, and one of the theorists who attended the exam, Antonio Angeleri, concluded that Verdi would never learn to play the piano properly.
The cherished dream of young musician about studying at the Milan Conservatory was not destined to come true. However, two years that he spent in Milan did not go in vain - during this period Giuseppe Verdi took lessons from Vincenzo Lavigna, the opera composer and conductor of the la Scala Theater (Teatro alla Scala).
Despite the poverty and difficult living conditions, Verdi selflessly learned from a talented teacher, leaving home only to go to the La Scala Theater. He selflessly rewrote the scores of Donizetti and Rossini, studying musical science on his own.
The first opera created by Verdi “Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio” was staged in 1839 in Milan. The event was realized due to the patronage of the guest La Scala main vocalist Giuseppina Strepponi. Verdi played the opera on the piano for her, and the singer was interested in the composer’s work. Despite the absence of the established musical style, the public welcomed the opera.
Verdi's first major success was the opera “Nabucco” (1841), written to the Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. Having survived hard times - the death of his spouse and son, then the failure of the second staged opera - “The King for an hour”, Verdi returned to composing.
Merelli, a major opera impresario, thanks to whom Verdi was able to realize theatrical productions, persuaded him to create an opera based on Temistocle Solera libretto “The Exile”. The German composer Otto Nicolai had already rejected the proposal to create an opera for this plot. Grudgingly, Verdi agreed to flip through the libretto. When he arrived home, he scornfully threw the papers onto the table, the notebook opened up on the words “Fly, thought, on the wings of gold ...” (the future choir “Va, pensiero”). Verdi considered it a sign of fate, after reading the libretto to the end he was inspired by it, and immediately proceeded to work.
The composer’s original style was already clearly drawn in this opera. The audience warmly welcomed the premiere, representatives of the patriotic movement perceived the opera as an incitement to revolution and the unification of Italy. It was with this work that Verdi himself associated the beginning of his full-fledged composing activity. Once again, Giuseppina Strepponi contributed to the production of the opera, which Verdi really wanted to perform in the high carnival season. Merelli, realizing all the risks, preferred to do it only in the spring. However, it was during the carnival season that Verdi could reckon upon participating in his opera of famous opera singers such as Strepponi or Ronconi. Verdi's music, which sounds in this opera, opened a new page of operatic art with its fury, vigor and clarity of the musical language.
“Nabucco” opened floodgates to Verdi, he became a welcome guest at all social events. The operas, through the prism of which Verdi later expressed his patriotic sentiments, followed “Nabucco” - these were “The Lombards on the First Crusade” of 1843, “Ernani” of 1844, “Macbeth” of 1847, and others. The composer’s veiled revolutionary ideas caused opposition and prohibitions from the church and police.
The opera Ernani, created in collaboration with the Venetian librettist Francesco Maria Piave, was one of the brightest Verdi’s works of the earlier period. The premiere of this opera took place on March 9, 1844. Spectators clearly felt the innovation of Verdi’s music. The orchestrating had not yet reached the perfection of the composer’s later works, in part it was noisy, which was explained by Verdi’s lack of experience and academic education. Nevertheless, the vigor and passion of the melody completely negated these shortcomings. If “Nabucco” retained the influence of Rossini and Donizetti works, the “Ernani” might be considered the original Verdi opera. The fee for this work amounted to 12 thousand liras - Verdi became a rich man.
During this period, the composer was fascinated by stories that in one way or another reflected revolutionary ideas. Through the narrative canvas, Verdi conveyed his own attitude to the events taking place in Italy. The variety of plots united his ideas about high civil ideals. After the revolution defeat, the theme of his operas changed: Verdi turned to social problems - the personal drama came to the fore.
Creation of realistic works was one of the main Verdi’s achievements in opera art. The composer created authentic pictures of life, without embellishment and romanticization, inherent to the previous pleiad of Italian composers - Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. Verdi was interested in the problems of social inequality and a deep psychological analysis of the characters, the life stories of ordinary people, but not representatives of the nobility and the aristocratic class. The composer turned to the life of a particular person from the sublime patriotic ideas. The public realized the depth of Verdi’s interpretation of Verdi and his subtle psychologism.
The main works of this period were "Traviata" (1853), "Rigoletto" (1851) and "Troubadour" (1853). “Rigoletto” was an unprecedented case since the main character in the opera was a provoking Crouchback. The opera became a kind of Verdi’s passionate dream to create an opera based on the plot of Shakespeare’s King Lear. The drama by Victor Hugo "The King Amuses Himself" was the base for the libretto, created by Francesco Piave. The censorship, that was constantly pursuing Verdi, tried to adjust the plot and insisted that the main character should be without a hump. A compromise was reached at the end - the time of events and the place of action were changed, and the personality of the King of France was replaced by the personality of the Duke of Mantua. The premiere took place on March 11, 1851. It caused a sensation and was staged in the major European opera houses for several months.
Verdi was known for his specific character: sullenness, angularity of manners, self-deepening. He was be generally recognized by the 1850’s, he continued a solitary existence, concentrating on create work. He created several operas, among which were “Sicilian Vespers” (1855), “Simon Boccanegra” (1857), “A Masked Ball” (Un ballo in maschera) (1859) and others.
In the 1860’s, Verdi creates the operas “The Power of Fate, often translated “The Force of Destiny” (commissioned by the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, 1862) and “Don Carlos” (1867). These operas anticipated the creation of Verdi’s greatest work, the opera “Aida”. It was commissioned on the Suez Canal opening. The opera was staged in Cairo in 1871. It brought Verdi a huge success. The voice part was created specifically for Verdi's beloved - soprano Teresa Stolz, bring out the singer’s full potential.
In “Aida”, Verdi, who always controlled the librettist work, achieved the complete fusion of music and words.
In 1869, the composer created his Requiem commemorating Gioacchino Rossini. Verdi’s last opera was “Falstaff”. It was created in 1893 on Arrigo Boito’s libretto based on “The Merry Wives of Windsor” by Shakespeare.
Verdi passed away on January 27, 1901.