Verdi's Famous Operas

Are you awed by the operas of Vredi? Learn of the life and works of this operatic composer.

Verdi's famous operas are well-known throughout the world. They are powerful, inspiring and contain exquisite music, plot and orchestration. But what is the basis for his operatic talent? How did he create stories and music of such moving power?

Verdi's training in music began at a very early age. He received a spinnet from his parents, or a small keyboard that eventually became the clavichord. He studied organ in several churches, and obtained his musical training from this and a small music school in the Italian village of Busseto. It is interesting to note that the composer was rejected for admission to the Milan Conservatorio when he applied after his schooling. Instead, he studied composition with the Italian maestro Vincenzo Lavigna in Milan. For the next ten years, the composer bounced between Milan and Busseto, the village of his childhood. He was married at this time, but his wife and children died, leaving him with nothing.

It can be said that this experience was the formative urge for some of Verdi's best operas. He began writing during his years in Milan, but following the death of his wife and children, he fell into despair. It can be said that opera cured this pain, because the composer writes of seeing the libretto to Nabucco, and the key for the aria Va pensiero, one of his most celebrated works. He received this libretto at a time of great political turmoil in Italy. The combination of Verdi's need to cure his pain and the public's need to demonstrate their patriotism, Nabucco was the opera that brought Verdi fame. It is true that after this, several more of Verdi's operas dealt with political issues. His use of political satire is highly exaggerated, however. The period that followed this opera led him to London, France and all parts of Italy composing and creating operas of great acclaim. His orchestral style grew more colorful at this time, and his dramatic expression became more floridly expressed in his music.

Overall, Verdi's operas are a masterpiece of orchestration, melody and dramatic construction within musical format. His mentors through their works were Donizetti and Bellini and other dramatic Italian composers. He contained the great skill, shared only by Mozart, Puccini, and a few other greats, of balancing the lives of his characters and their individual personalities against the often overwhelming aspect of opera. His Italian nature commanded works of great passion, and one is often moved to laughter and tears within the same act of an opera.

Verdi's most famous operas are Aida, Falstaff, Macbeth, Othello, Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore. It is recommended that the beginning opera viewer should view La Traviata and Aida, as these are internationally acclaimed works, and often staples in a Verdi conversation. When viewing each opera, notice the significance of the human element of each character, and their balance against the opulent scenes and settings that they are placed within. This is often cited as Verdi's best trait, and the spark that brings his operas from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

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