Testimonials
For Expert Advice Call:
01722 445900

Read our Reviews

Our clients come from all over the world

Giuseppe Verdi

1813 was a defining year for the future of opera as two of the greatest composers were born. In Italy Giuseppe Verdi and in Germany Richard Wagner.

Verdi turned out to be one of the most prolific opera writers and has a catalogue of 28 to his name including ‘La Traviata’, ‘Nabucco’, ‘Aida’, ‘Rigoletto’, ‘Il Trovatore’, ‘Falstaff’, ‘Otello’ and ‘Macbeth’. Like the subject matter of a few of his operas it is fair to say he was the Shakespeare of opera!

Verdi started writing opera in his mid-twenties and was given a 3 opera contract by La Scala Milan. The first 2 did not really take off but the 3rd opera ‘Nabucco’ was a roaring success. It ran for 52 performances and marked the style he would become renowned for – complex characters, driving rhythmic energy and the dynamic use of the chorus.

Having established himself in the most celebrated opera house La Scala de Milan he wanted to change tact and write some more personal intimate operas and switched his attention to La Fenice Venice Opera. With the celebrated librettist Francesco Piave, who tolerated Verdi’s almost manic and exacting standards, they churned out some of his lesser known work in operas like ‘Ernani’ and ‘I due Fosaci.’

Every major opera house in Italy wanted to commission Verdi and he moved on to work for Teatro San Carlo Opera in Naples producing probably his weakest opera Alzira.

Every major opera house in Italy wanted to commission Verdi and he moved on to work for Teatro San Carlo Opera in Naples producing probably his weakest opera Alzira.

Verdi really started to gain international acclaim when in 1847 on a commission from the  Teatro della Pergola in Florence he wrote MacBeth, one of 3 operas based on the works of William Shakespere.

As Italy descended into chaos amidst revolutions in Europe and as the Austrians invaded and took control of Milan Verdi entered probably his most prolific and controversial period. Many of his works were censored as they featured radical themes but through this turmoil and Verdi’s determination one of his masterpieces, Rigoletto, was born. 170 years after it was first performed it remains one of the composer’s most performed pieces filled with brilliant melodies and the infectious aria La Donne e mobile.

Il Trovatore’ and ‘La Traviata’ followed in rapid succession and although the premiere of the later was nothing short of a disaster it has now established itself as one of Verdi’s most popular operas. In the 11 years leading up to ‘La Traviata’ Verdi was prolific scoring 16 operas but only ‘Luisa Miller’ features on his acclaimed list and importantly sets the ground for an introverted composing style that he would perfect in the big hits that would follow.

As the 1850s came to an end Verdi began to receive commissions from abroad. He wrote ‘La Forza del destino’ for the Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg and ‘Don Carlos’ for the Paris Opera. Don Carlos is recognised universally as one of his finest based on the idealism and the abuse of power.

Verdi ‘unofficially’ retired but was lured by his love of Egyptology and a commission by the Cairo Opera house to write probably his most famous opera Aida, which continues to thrill audiences around the world. It is performed in its full glamorous detail at the Verona opera festival every summer. Its striking theme, sense of place, innovative orchestration and melodic writing have enduring appeal.

Towards the end of his career he returned to the works of Shakespeare and wrote Otello, which is one his most respected pieces, and Falstaff based on the comic tale of the ‘Merry wives of Windsor’.

Verdi’s personal life had its fair share of tragedy.  He lost two infant children as well as his wife Margherita at the age of 26 at which point he vowed to never compose again. History has Bartolomeo Merelli, the curator of La Scala Milan, to thank for luring Verdi back into opera by commissioning him to write Nabucco. As the saying goes the rest is history.

To appreciate Verdi’s contribution to opera you need to

look beyond his amazing body of music and understand how he transformed the total operatic experience. Italian opera of the early 19th century was under rehearsed and shoddy in many respects. Verdi was a perfectionist expecting his performers to understand, empathise and interpret the score. He liked to conduct his early operas and ensured that exacting standards were met, staging and costumes were dramatic and he created a style which we associate with operatic performances today.

Verdi died in 1901 at the age of 87 and sits at the head of a pantheon of famous 19th century composers. His worked is performed annually in the world’s major opera houses and has been adapted into popular culture.  Look no further than the films Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge both of which are based on La Traviata.

Whether you are a connoisseur of opera, or a novice seeing Aida performed under the summer sky in the Roman Arena di Verona, it is an unforgettable bucket list item.

Make an Enquiry

Call 01722 445900 to make an enquiry

or Fill in the Form Below

You have Signed up to receive newsletters with ideas and tips for special occasion trips from our travel websites. This e-newsletter comes out twice a month and we guarantee your information will not be shared with others. If at any stage you would like to cancel this then please e-mail info@weekendalacarte.co.uk informing us and we will remove your details from our database.

We guarantee your information will not be shared
with others. If at any stage you would like to cancel this then please e-mail info@weekendalacarte.co.uk informing us and we will remove your details from our database.