October 10, 1813 - Parma (Italy) — January 27, 1901 - Milano (Italy)
Giuseppe Verdi (1886), Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
Giuseppe Verdi, king of popular opera
Giuseppe Verdi, child of the people, king of popular opera, began life as the son of an innkeeper. He was brought up in modest circumstances. He first received lessons from the village priest, who was amazed by the young musician’s talents. Verdi’s musical education was rounded and complete: at the age of sixteen, the composer wrote fugues, masses and symphonies, which he would later destroy. As he met with reticence in Milan, he settled in Busseto where he fell victim to the pettiness of the town. However, his strong willpower enabled him to pursue his musical path without paying heed to what people said.
As early as 1838, Giuseppe Verdi was thinking of the opera and composed his first theatrical works in the style of Donizetti and Bellini. His first great success came in 1842 with the premiere of Nabucco at the Scala. Verdi was admired, celebrated, copied and envied. Without respite, Verdi composed numerous works and won great acclaim for his Romantic opera. Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata and Aida bear witness to Verdi’s art.
With refined orchestral colours, a unique sense of lyricism and lively choral writing, Giuseppe Verdi strengthened dramatic cohesion and attained an apogee with Otello and Falstaff, which transpose Shakespeare’s universe into music. Taking that Italy is the homeland of opera, Verdi was worshipped there like a god. “Viva Verdi!” was chalked on walls and the musician remained fervently patriotic. Far from Richard Wagner, Verdi shines for his humanism and his great moral strength, which is brilliantly reflected in his music.