Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Giuseppe Verdi’s first musical education was somewhat difficult. Although rejected by the Milan Conservatory as a pianist, he was noted for his gifts as a composer and had the great opportunity to be quickly commissioned for his work from the Scala in Milan: His first opera, Oberto (1839), was such a success that a second opera was ordered from him. However, while he was composing this opera, Verdi had the misfortune to lose two children and his young wife, one after another. He finally managed to overcome this terrible ordeal and created Nabucco. This opera was widely acclaimed. Thus, Verdi became a famous composer and turned out opera masterpieces at an astounding rate. He wrote a total of 28 operas, of which the most famous are: Nabucco, Macbeth, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Un Ballo in maschera, La Forza del destino, Don Carlo, Aïda, Simon Boccanegra, Otello , as well as Falstaff.
There was a profound change noted from the operas of Verdi’s youth to his later works: The composer gradually abandoned the traditional “bel canto” in favor of more dramatic vocal expression. By giving importance to the dramatic narrative, unexpected depths of expression and breadth to his characters, Giuseppe Verdi brought a new emotional intensity to Italian opera. His expression, his extraordinary gifts as a melodist, his penetrating psychological insight and his spontaneity of emotions assured him musical immortality. This certainly has made him one of the most influential opera composers of the 19th century.