Archive: VERDI'S WEEK
9.- 17.11.2013, Janáčkovo divadlo
In 2013 we are celebrating several important anniversaries of world famous composers, one of them being Giuseppe Verdi, who was born 200 years ago.
Operas played during Verdi's week:
9.11.2013, Janček Theatre
The inspiration for the creation of one of the masterpieces from the operatic repertoire came from a scenario written by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Giuseppe Verdi provided the musical setting for the dramatic love story set against a backdrop of brutal warfare. Aida, an Ethiopian princess and Radamès, an Egyptian warrior, are on opposing sides of a bitter war and when they fall in love with each other, she must choose between her heart and her loyalty to her homeland. Verdi, the world-renowned composer, wrote the opera in an incredibly short time of just four months. At the time it was the culmination of his search for a new style that he had begun when he composed Don Carlos. Verdi’s Aida is a permanent fixture in all the major opera houses, Brno being no exception, where it has been continuously in the repertoire for more than ten years with the narrative production directed by Václav Věžník.
12.11.2013, Janček Theatre
Perhaps no one in the audience at the Venetian premiere in 1853, which the composer declared as a “complete fiasco”, would have believed that they had just witnessed the birth of one of the most popular and most performed Italian operas. Verdi always liked searching for a dramatic narrative with unusual and complex characters on which to base his operas and he undoubtedly found these elements in the novel La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas.
Verdi’s tragic tale of a Parisian courtesan, who sacrifices all for love, is full of moving and instantly recognisable melodies, making it one of the most emotionally engaging and great operas of all time.
13.11.2013, Janček Theatre
After the spectacular failure of Verdi’s second opera Un giorno di regno, written during a dark period when he lost his wife and two children, he vowed never to compose again. Bartolomeo Merelli, the director of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, offered Verdi a libretto by Temistocle Solera, Nabucodonosor whose title was later shortened to Nabucco for a production in Venice. After several attempts, Merelli eventually persuaded Verdi to write the opera. The huge success of this work established Verdi’s reputation as a composer and put him back on track to go on to write many masterpieces.
Although Nabucco is only Verdi’s third opera, he succeeded in creating an impressive work. The passionate music of the work deals with the liberation of the Jews following their captivity by the Babylonian King, Nabucco. When the opera had its premiere in 1842 in Milan, it fully corresponded to the mood of the people at that time, as they yearned for liberation and the unification of Italy. The work was also a symbol of the struggle for freedom which is still relevant in today’s world. ‘Va, pensiero’ – ‘The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’, sung in the third act, has become one of the most famous opera melodies of all time and remains to this day the unofficial national anthem in Italy. The score blends rhythmic vitality and powerful drama, and is on a scale that does justice to the opera’s epic themes.
15.11.2013, Janček Theatre
The Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi is a musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass (Requiem) for four soloists, double choir and orchestra. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist much admired by Verdi. The first performance in San Marco in Milan on 22 May 1874 marked the first anniversary of Manzoni's death. The work was at one time called the Manzoni Requiem. It is typically not performed in the liturgy, but in a concert of around 85–90 minutes.
The Sicilian Vespers
17.11.2013, Janček Theatre
Many of Verdi’s operas are inspired by actual historical events. Among them is The Sicilian Vespers which the composer wrote at the request of the Paris Opéra. The libretto was written by the French dramatist Eugène Scribe. He offered Verdi a libretto that he had written in collaboration with Charles Duveyrier for the opera Le duc d’Albe that was originally designed for Gaetano Donizetti. Verdi insisted on revising the work and in particular, changing the setting from the Spanish occupation of Flanders in 1573 to the French occupation of Sicily in 1282. When composingThe Sicilian Vespers, Verdi followed the genre of the French grand opera tradition, with an abundance of typical dramatic tension and greatness woven into his music.