Giuseppe Verdi remains Italy’s greatest operatic composer and a man of apparent contradictionsvividly brought to life through a nuanced examination of his life and monumental music.
Giuseppe Verdi remains the greatest operatic composer that Italy, the home of opera, has ever produced. Yet throughout his lifetime he claimed to detest composing and repeatedly rejected it. He was a landowner, a farmer, a politician and symbol of Italian independence; but his music tells a different story.
An obsessive perfectionist, Verdi drove collaborators to despair but his works lauded from the start as dazzling feats of composition and characterization. From Rigoletto to Otello, La Traviatato to Aida, Verdi’s canon encompassed the full range of human emotion. His private life was no less complex: he suffered great loss, and went out of his way to antagonize supporters and his own family. An outspoken advocate of Italian independence and a sharp critic of the church, he was often at odds with nineteenth-century society.
In Verdi: The Man Revealed, John Suchet attempts to get under the skin of perhaps the most private composer who ever lived. Unraveling his protestations, his deliberate embellishments and disavowals, Suchet reveals the true character of this great artistand the art for which he will be forever known.
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About the Author
John Suchet presents Classic FM's flagship morning program in England. Before turning to classical music, John was one of the England’s most respected television journalists. As a reporter he covered world events, including the Iran revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Philippines revolution. John has been honored for both roles. In 1986 he was voted Television Journalist of the Year, in 1996 Television Newscaster of the Year, and in 2008 the Royal Television Society awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Royal Academy of Music has awarded him an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his work on Beethoven, having written six books on the composer, including the highly acclaimed Beethoven: The Man Revealed. His bestselling biography of the Strauss family, The Last Waltz: The Strauss Dynasty and Vienna, was published in 2015.
Table of Contents
1 Confused Beginnings 1
2 A Father and His Daughter 13
3 'He is a Rude, Uncivil Scoundrel' 21
4 Intolerable Losses 33
5 Another Loss and a Fiasco 43
6 'Little by Little the Opera Was Composed' 51
7 The Galley Years 61
8 'Signor Maestro' 71
9 Verdi, Man of Property 81
10 Queen Victoria Is Not Amused 91
11 'The Hour of Liberation Has Sounded' 101
12 Verdi Sets Tongues Wagging 111
13 The Opera Is 'Repugnant, Immoral, Obscene' 121
14 A Rift in the Verdi Family 131
15 A Question of Identity 139
16 'Without You, I Am a Body without a Soul' 147
17 The Bear of Busseto 157
18 Verdi, Gentleman Farmer 165
19 'Verdi Is My Tyrant' 175
20 A Wedding at Last 183
21 A Soprano Impresses Verdi 193
22 'I Am an Almost Perfect Wagnerian' 203
23 An Opera for Cairo 213
24 'The All-Powerful Corruptor of Italian Artistic Taste' 223
25 Scandal and Comedy 233
26 'One Button More, One Button Less' 243