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In Theatre Workshop – Verdi’s La Traviata Researched and prepared for Opera Australia by Dennis Elliott.

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Presentation on theme: "In Theatre Workshop – Verdi’s La Traviata Researched and prepared for Opera Australia by Dennis Elliott."— Presentation transcript:


2 In Theatre Workshop – Verdi’s La Traviata Researched and prepared for Opera Australia by Dennis Elliott


4 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 4 Giuseppe Verdi was born in the small village of Le Roncole, not far from the regional town of Busseto, in the district of Parma in on either the 9th or 10th of October, 1813. While he was still young his parents decided to move from the little town of Le Roncole to Busseto where, at the age of 7, he received his first lessons on the organ. THE EARLY YEARS 1 Verdi’s birthplace.

5 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 5 In 1823, at the age of 10, Verdi entered Ferdinando Provesi’s music school in Busetto and by 1825 he had been appointed assistant conductor of the town’s orchestra. Having learnt the fundamentals of music composition, Verdi decided to leave Busseto and move to Milan in order to continue his music studies. Disappointingly, his application to enter the Milan Conservatory was rejected and Verdi was forced to undertake lessons privately. THE EARLY YEARS 2

6 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 6 In Milan, Verdi moved in musical circles, and was fortunate to find a benefactor in Antonio Barezzi. Pursuing his music education independently, he undertook counterpoint lessons with Vincenzo Lavigna, a former musician at La Scala. It is therefore not surprising that it was here, in Milan, that he discovered opera. Verdi took every available opportunity to attend performances and the basis of a future career in the theatre had been established. THE EARLY YEARS 3 Antonio Barezzi.

7 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 7 In 1830, Verdi returned to Busetto where he took up the post of town music master and gave his first public performance at the home of Barezzi, his benefactor. He also began to give music lessons to Barezzi’s daughter, Margherita, and it was not long before the two had fallen deeply in love. In 1836 they were married and Verdi “celebrated” the occasion by beginning to compose his first opera, Rochester. (1836 / 37 – unpublished). In 1837, their first child, Virginia Maria Luigia, was born and in July 1838, the couple added to their family with a son, Icilio Romano. THE EARLY YEARS 5

8 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 8 This period of wedded bliss was to be a short one. While working on the opera Oberto both children died. Only three months before the first performance of Un giorno di re (A Day in the life of a King – 1840), Verdi also lost his beloved wife to encephalitis. The loss of his entire family in the space of 22 months, and the failure of Un giorno di Re, was almost too much for the young composer to bear. Suffering a severe depression, Verdi vowed to end his career. THE EARLY YEARS 6

9 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 9 THE EARLY YEARS 7

10 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 10 Bartolomeo Merelli, La Scala’s impresario, persuaded Verdi to overcome his grief and compose a new opera. Nabucco, which had its first performance in March of 1842, was a triumph and made Verdi famous. The opera, which tells of the suffering of the Israelite slaves at the hands of the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, resonated with the Italians who were, themselves in “bondage” under Austrian rule. The famous chorus for the Hebrew slaves, Va, pensiero, sull’ ali dorate (Fly, o thought, on golden wings) laid the foundations of Verdi’s future fame and was to become, arguably, his most famous melody. THE EARLY YEARS 8 Nabucco - Hebrew Slaves Chorus

11 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 11 In the decade after 1843, a period he described as his “galley years”, Verdi composed no fewer than 14 operas. These included: I Lomdardi alla Prima Crociata 1843, Ernani 1844, Giovanno d’Arco 1845, Attila 1846, Macbeth 1847, I Masnadieri 1847, Jerusalem (a renamed and revised version of I Lombardi in the French Grand Opera style) 1847 and La Battaglia di Legnano 1849. THE MIDDLE YEARS 1 Anatoli Siuko as Attila.

12 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 12 Around this time Verdi became romantically involved with Giussepina Strepponi, an opera singer in the twilight of her career. Their relationship was regarded as somewhat scandalous and, while living with Giuseppina, Verdi purchased an estate not far from Busseto. After the death of his mother in 1851, Verdi made Villa Verdi his home until his death. THE MIDDLE YEARS 2 Three images of Giuseppina Strepponi; Verdi’s second wife.

13 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 13 At the same time, Verdi was creating one operatic masterpiece after another. Rigoletto, a tale of sexual intrigue, abduction and murder, had its premiere in Venice in 1851. Il Trovatore, premiered in Rome 2 years later in 1853, and his masterpiece, La Traviata, premiered in Venice just two months later!! Verdi was a the height of his powers! THE MIDDLE YEARS 3 Opera Australia’s production of Rigoletto 2010 Verdi conducting Aida in Paris.

14 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 14 THE MIDDLE YEARS 4 Between 1855 and 1867 Verdi’s ability to create one great opera after another continued unabated. Les Vêpres siciliennes premiered in Paris in 1855, Simone Boccanegra at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice in 1857. Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball) had its premiere in Rome in 1859 and La Forza del Destino was first performed at the Imperial Opera in St. Petersburg in November of 1862. In 1865, a completely revised version of Macbeth, including additions, cuts and a complete re-scoring, opened in Paris. Don Carlos followed in 1867.

15 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 15 In 1869, Verdi was approached to compose an opera, Aida, for the opening of the Suez canal. Initially he was unenthusiastic and remained disinterested despite several approaches. Eventually, however, he was won over and agreements were signed in June of 1870. Aida was first produced at Cairo on Christmas Eve, 1871 and one year later it had its European premiere at La Scala, in Milan, with Teresa Stolz in the title role. THE LATER YEARS 1 Aida at the Arena di Verona.

16 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 16 THE LATER YEARS 2 A production of Aida in the Arena di Verona.

17 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 17 After the almost instant success of Aida, Verdi’s operatic output slowed to a trickle. The years between 1874 and 1898 were characterised by an interest in music of a religious nature. The famous Messa da Requiem 1874 dates from this period. Verdi also used this time to revise two of his earlier operatic works: Simone Boccanegra, revised 1881, and Don Carlos, revised 1884. THE LATER YEARS 3

18 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 18 “The world was convinced that the old Maestro himself had spoken his last word with Aida, and would write no more. Verdi was seventy.....he was seventy two; seventy three. And then one evening at the Scala in Milan the tremendous, dissonant opening chord of Otello came crashing out, that blow of a giant’s fist, smashing the stone of the tomb. “I am still here....” 1. 1.Verdi. The Man in his Letters. A Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi by Franz Werfel. Translated by Barrows Mussey. page 73. THE LATER YEARS 4

19 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 19 Otello was yet another excursion by Verdi into the “world” of Shakespeare. Set to a libretto by the young Italian composer, Arrigo Boito, Otello premiered in Milan in 1887. One of its most famous scenes is the opening storm scene, arguably the greatest ever written for opera! THE LATER YEARS 5 Verdi Otello Belgrade Opera Chorus

20 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 20 Six years after Otello, the operatic “voice” of the old maestro was to be heard for the last time. Again, Shakespeare was the inspiration and Boito the librettist. Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff, premiered at La Scala on February 9th,1893. Verdi was 80 years of age!! THE LATER YEARS 6

21 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 21 After Falstaff’s success Verdi retired to his country estate where he spent the next four years in “happy retirement” with his beloved Giuseppina. In 1897 he completed his final composition; a Stabat Mater, the last of his Quattro Pezzi Sacri (Four Sacred Pieces). On the 14th of November, in the same year, Giuseppina passed away at Sant’ Agata with Verdi by her side. VERDI’S DEATH 1

22 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 22 Unable to bear the loneliness of Sant’ Agata, Verdi moved to Milan where he took up residence in the Grand Hotel et di Milan. It was here, on the 21st of January, 1901, whilst retrieving a dropped shirt stud from under his bed, that Verdi suffered a stroke. A week later, on the 27th of January, Verdi died. VERDI’S DEATH 2 A statue of Verdi in Palermo.

23 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 23 Giuseppe Verdi was laid to rest in Milan’s Cimitero Monumentale but, as his will had stipulated it was his urgent desire to be buried with his wife in the chapel of the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, a rest home for retired musicians that Verdi had established in the last years of his life, Verdi’s body was relocated a month later. An enormous crowd attended Verdi’s funeral service in Milan. Arturo Toscanini conducted the combined orchestral and choral forces made up of musicians from all over Italy who wished to pay their final respects to “the venerable ancient of Sant’ Agata”. VERDI’S DEATH 3

24 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 24 VERDI’S DEATH 4 The nursing home that Verdi founded for retired musicians. He and Giuseppina were laid to rest in its chapel.

25 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 25 BIBLIOGRAPHY The following sources have been used in the creation of this PowerPoint: Collins Encyclopedia of Music. Sir Jack Westrup and F.L.l.Harrison Chancellor Press 1959 and 1976 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd ISBN 0 907486 50 9 The Larousse Encyclopedia of Music. Edited by Geoffrey Hindley Hamlyn Publishing 1971 ISBN 0 600 02396 6 The Oxford Companion to Music. Percy A Scholes Edited by John Owen Ward Oxford University Press Tenth Edition 1970 ISBN 0-19-311306-6 Verdi: the man in his letters. Franz Werfel and Paul Stefan. Translated by Edward Downes. Vienna House. New York. Pub. 1973. ISBN 0-8443-0088-8

26 The Life and Music of Giuseppe Verdi 26 BIBLIOGRAPHY The following sources have been used in the creation of this PowerPoint: Music An Appreciation. Roger Kamien McGraw Hill Inc. 1984 ISBN 0-07-033512-5 Usborne Introduction to Music. Eileen O’Brien. Usborne Publishing. ISBN 0 7460 6797 6 Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia Commons.

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