Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian composer who brought his operatic style to such new heights of dramatic expression. He also inherited the ‘bel canto’ singing style from predecessors Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini and Gioachino Rossini.
Verdi’s operas range from the tragic to the comic. He was master of theatrical drama whose music are instantly recognized, for example, “La donna è mobile” (woman is fickle) from Rigoletto or “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore, often used in numerous TV commercials, acclaimed today as when it was first written.
Brief biography of Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi was born in Roncole near Parma, Italy on October 10, 1813. He came from the family of small landowners and taverners. However as a composer, his success was so great that by today’s standard, he would be considered a multimillionaire.
At age 12, he studied with the organist at the main church in nearby Busseto where he became assistant in 1829. In 1831 he was sent to Milan with a scholarship, but was rejected over entrance age and studied privately instead.
At 23, he married Margherita Barezzi. Five years later, the deaths of his two children and his wife brought him to the heights of a nervous collapse, only restored by his opera Nabucco. Ten years later, he scored another success with Rigoletto.
Verdi remarried, soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, his mistress.
Italian Composer of Romantic Period
Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian composer of the Romantic period who took his native operatic style to new heights of dramatic expression. He was 26 years old when he wrote his first opera Oberto. In 1840 he wrote the opera Un giorno di Regno (King of the Day, with librettist Felice Romani), then Nabucco, followed by Ernani and Rigoletto. Other operas followed: Il trovatore (The Troubadour) and La traviata (The Erring One), Aida, considered by many opera buffs as his masterpiece, Requiem, Otello and his last opera, Falstaff.
Although his name has always been associated with operas, he also wrote songs and a string quartet, as well as a choral work Hymn of Nations for the London Exhibition of 1862.
Over the period of his long life, he continuously invested his operas, like Aida, with more dramatic depth, making him the greatest Italian composer of the opera, although not necessarily the greatest operatic composer in history. During the mid-1800s, he became a symbol of Italy’s fight for independence from Austria which found himself in conflict with the authorities who felt his operas encouraged Italian nationalism.
Verdi spent his last years in Milan, rich, authoritarian but charitable, revered and honoured. He died in Milan, aged 88.
Best-Known Verdi Operas
Il Trovatore (The Troubadour)
La Traviata (The Woman Gone Astray or The Erring One)
Un Ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball)
La Forza del destino (The Force of Destiny)