Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (10 October 1813 – 27 January 1901) was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world and, transcending the boundaries of the genre
Verdi's art has remained as accessible and popular as it was during his lifetime, his major operas constituting the backbone of today's standard repertory. Three of his homes […] are open to the public as museums. Now, as before, Verdi speaks to us all, even as he remains a beloved symbol of Italy and its culture, a man for his time and ours.
[Verdi's] Aida was commissioned by Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt. Production was delayed by the Franco-Prussian war and Giuseppe Verdi donated a portion of his considerable fee to the victims of the siege of Paris. Today, Verdi's Aida is as popular as ever all over the world, including many recordings. Act one has some famous and best-loved scenes.
It also raises the question of why Il Trovatore is so extraordinarily popular. Answering that is far simpler than explaining the opera's plotline: For whatever reason, Verdi blessed this convoluted story with two-plus hours of his very finest music — a seemingly endless string of memorable numbers that give clarity to a murky plotline, and bring shady characters vividly to life.
In semi-retirement following "Aida" (1871), Verdi entered a golden age of dramatic power and economy of expression. After the 1874 Requiem -- a rousingly dramatic opera in all but name -- Verdi worked on two librettos by the composer and writer Arrigo Boito to create his final Shakespearean masterworks, "Otello" (1887) and "Falstaff" (1893), considered by many the finest operas in the entire Verdi canon.
As the mid-nineteenth century unfolded, Verdi, now in his forties, had become the most popular opera composer in the world. In his early operatic style, he had emphatically preserved the bel canto traditions maintained by his immediate predecessors, Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. Verdi became the conservator of a glorious tradition in which voice and melody remained supreme. Those were the vital and dynamic forces that represented the soul of the Italian operatic form.
Between the premiere of Nabucco and the premiere of La traviata in March 1853, Verdi produced sixteen operas, including I Lombardi (1843), Ernani (1844), I due Foscari (1844), Macbeth (1847), Rigoletto (1851), and Il trovatore (1853). After the premiere of La traviata, however, the pace of Verdi’s operatic output slowed considerably. In eighteen years, Verdi only composed six new operas: Les vêpres siciliennes (1855), Simon Boccanegra (1857), Un ballo in maschera (1859), La forza del destino (1862), Don Carlos (1867), and Aïda (1871).
He was convinced by the impressario at La Scala to give it one more try with Nabucco, a libretto entailing the story of the Israelite plight at the hands of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. The opening night of Nabucco was nothing short of a triumph. The Italians, who were living under Austrian rule, found a new hope in their native son, and Nabucco marked the beginning of Verdi’s eternal fame.
In the space of under two years, he lost both of his young children and then his wife, Margherita, to illness. Then, only two months after his wife's death, his second opera, Un Giorno di Regno, bombed and all future performances were cancelled.
Verdi’s style was inflected by his great personality and capabilities. The melodies lines were usually drafted with fixed forms, stanzas with internal stressed rhythm and patterns of distinctive drama. For the success of an operatic event he has always perpetuated an overwhelming attention in the execution and about the scenic appearances.
Verdi broke new ground at almost every turn in his career. In such early successes as Ernani, he introduced a vibrant potency to music for lower male voices. In middle period works like Rigoletto and La Traviata, he deepened the richness of individual characters while broadening dramatic complexity. And in Verdi's late operas, he combined a new mastery of vocal expression with swift, taut pacing, turning Otello into a riveting thriller and Falstaff into a virtuosic, sparkling comedy.
In general, Verdi's works are most noted for their emotional intensity, tuneful melodies, and dramatic characterizations. He transformed the Italian opera, with its traditional set pieces, old-fashioned librettos, and emphasis on vocal displays, into a unified musical and dramatic entity.