Category Archives: Verdi

Celestina Boninsegna

Celestina Boninsegna (1877-1947) was an Italian soprano best known for her facility with Verdi’s great soprano parts. Born in Reggio Emilia she was something of a vocal prodigy. Her first appearance on stage was as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale; she was 15. Following the completion of her vocal studies at the Conservatorio Gioachino Rossini in…


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Finale 35 – Attila

I’ll start this one with the beginning rather than the end. Verdi’s 9th opera is one of his roughest. There’s a lot coarse music that nevertheless has a certain grainy impact. The title role is what keeps the opera around. Sam Ramey sang the role with astounding regularity. The work begins with a short prelude…


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Verdi’s Priests

Giuseppe Verdi as was typical of 19th century liberal intellectuals was distinctively and typically anti clerical. Accordingly, the priests in his operas are not usually sympathetically portrayed. Here are a few depicted in different ways. Verdi’s first success, Nabucco, was about the Babylonian Captivity of the Hebrews. It starts in the Temple of Solomon. The…


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Don Carlos in HD

No Verdi opera has as many versions as Don Carlos. There are at least eight. Alas, the composer never designated any of them as definitive. The Met has done both four and five act Italian versions, but never until this season the five act French original. Well, not really the original. The Met’s current go…


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Finale 32 – I Vespri Siciliani Act 3

Verdi’s The Sicilian Vespers was written to a French text by Eugene Scribe – Les vêpres siciliennes. It first appeared at the Paris Opera in 1855. Its French iteration was unsuccessful and it disappeared from France, and most of the rest of the operatic world, until fairly recently. In its Italian form is was more…


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Rigoletto in HD – 2022

The Met seems to have a problem finding the locale of Verdi’s dark masterpiece. They moved it from Mantua to Las Vegas in 2013. That production didn’t last long; it was replaced this year by one set in the capital city of the Weimar Republic. Why? Who knows? Which site is weirder? Hard to tell….


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Finale 30 – Luisa Miller Act 1

Luisa Miller was first performed at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples in 1849. It was Verdi’s 15th opera (if you count Jérusalem the rewrite of I Lombardi for Paris as a separate work). It didn’t reach the Met until 1929 when it had six performances extending into 1930. The cast was a grand one. It…


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Finale 29 – La Traviata Act 2

La Traviata is an opera full of highlights. Much of its music its familiar to listeners who are not opera enthusiasts. But popular as it is, the finale to the second act is rarely heard apart from a complete performance. Nevertheless, this ensemble is one of Verdi’s grandest achievements. The world’s most popular opera, Traviata…


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Nonets and More

Writing for nine distinct voices in opera is rare. I can only think of two examples without a deep dive into opera arcana [If there are other examples, let me know]. First, Act 1 scene 2 of Verdi’s Falstaff. And if that’s not enough Verdi goes on to write for 10. This complex writing occurs…


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The Verdi Soprano – Pace, Pace, Mio Dio!

Verdi wrote soprano parts for a variety of vocal types. The roles of Abigaille (Nabucco), Violetta (Traviata), and Leonora (Trovatore and Forza) have quite different requirements. The first asks for a spinto capable of both forceful declamation and great agility, but floated high notes and a velvet tone are not needed. Traviata seems as though…


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