The leading artist of Italy’s Reunification (“Risorgimento”) in the mid 1800’s was the great composer Giuseppe Verdi. His tunefully dramatic operas expressed the movement’s ideals and provided a common bond for divided peoples. His moral integrity and patriotic yearnings became symbolic of an emerging nation’s vital spirit. We will explore Verdi’s life and art in their historical context, using video (with subtitles) to examine in detail his magnificent music dramas that continue to thrill audiences everywhere.
Week by Week Outline
Class I: Verdi and his Time: We’ll learn about the composers and styles that influenced the young Verdi, and get a sampling of his first opera, Oberto, and his early comedy, Un Giorno di Regno (King for a Day), then look at his first big success, the brusquely energetic Nabucco.
Class II: Early slam-bam hits: Ernani, Attila (yes, an opera about Atilla the Hun), and his first Shakespearean opera, Macbeth.
Class III: Middle period masterpieces: Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, and La Traviata.
Class IV: Maturity: Simon Boccanegra, Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) and La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny)
Class V: French Grand Opera and Egyptian Spectacle: Don Carlos and Aida
Class VI: The Shakespearean masterpieces: Otello and Falstaff