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Guiseppe Verdi     Part 2   1842 - 1851

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(INTRODUCE BEN IO T'INVENNI SALGO GIA FROM NABUCCO AND PLAY UNDER)
NARRATOR:

Maria Callas in Nabucco :Ben io t'invenni Salgo gia









STREPPONI:
Giuseppina
Strepponi
Giuseppina Strepponi
The lead role of Abigail the daughter of Nabucco was sung by Giuseppina Strepponi, a star prima donna.

Exhausted by the stress of giving birth to a succession of abandoned children, Strepponi's voice had deteriorated to such an extent that it was unusual for her to perform well for three successive days. Fortunately she was in good voice on the night of the premiere.

I dragged myself to the end of the performance.
NARRATOR:




READER:







NARRATOR:






Ernani Finale with Placido Domingo
Sant'Ammbrogio
Sant'Ambrogio
She was later to become Verdi's second wife. Meanwhile she also performed Abigail very successfully in Parma, where the local press reported.

She was hailed as an extremely fine singer. Every evening she got so many curtain calls and garlands of flowers that she laughed for joy.

(BRING UP BEN IO T'INVENNI SALGO GIA FROM NABUCCO AND PLAY OUT)

The theme of his next opera, I lombardi alla Prima Crociata - the Lombards on the First Crusade was both religious and patriotic. It was a spectacle of heroic dimensions. A Milanese shrine, beloved by everyone was shown on stage: the piazza and basilca of Sant'Ambrogio, where Verdi's son and wife had been buried.

Fenice Theatre Venice<
Fenice Theatre Venice
This was followed by Ernani which was based on the play Hernani by Victor Hugo, and which premiered at the Fenice Theatre in Venice.

(ESTABLISH THE FINALE FROM ERNANI AND PLAY UNDER)

The imperial Austrian censors considered its glorification of the bandit Ernani to be an endorsement of anarchy. However Verdi stood firm as he had over I Lombardi. The librettist was Francesco Piave, who was to write the librettos for Rigoletto, La Traviata and La Forza del Destino.

Emanuele Muzio
Emanuele Muzio
portrait by Giovanni Boldini
Verdi's fans arrived from Padua on one of the first Italian trains. While the first night was not as successful as that of Nabucco, Ernani became one of Verdi's most popular works.

During the next three years it was produced from Constantinople and Corfu to Rio de Janeiro and Havana, from Copenhagen to Algeria. It was asked for in Paris and London.

(BRING UP THE FINALE FROM ERNANI AND PLAY OUT)

In 1844 A young musician named Emanuele Muzio entered Verdi's service. He was to remain his assistant, confidante and loyal friend for almost fifty years. He said of Verdi as a teacher:
MUZIO:




NARRATOR:
Lord Byron
Lord Byron
He does not let a single note pass unless it is perfect. The Signor Maestro has such love and zeal that the student is fired with enthusiasm. I can only say I was born very, very lucky!

During this period, Verdi was very busy working on a succession of operas, sometimes for sixteen hour a days, suffering from bronchitis, soar throats and stomach problems. His next opera was I Due Foscari based on Lord Byron's play, The Two Foscaris. Later he was to lose faith in it. Writing to his librettist Piave in 1848 he complained:
VERDI: In subjects that are inherently sad, as with I Due Foscari, you end up on the mortuary.
NARRATOR: Muzio wrote of his re-rehearsing I Lombardi.
MUZIO: I am sorry to see him wear himself out. He shouts desperately. He stamps his feet. He sweats so much that drops of perspirartion fall on his score.
NARRATOR:
Macbeth: the sleepwalking scene
He went on to compose Joan of Arc for La Scala, where he had a row with Merelli; Alzira based on a play by Voltaire for the San Carlo Theatre in Naples; Attila after a drama by Zacharias Werner for the Fenice Theatre in Venice: and an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth for the Pergola Theatre in Florence, where Verdi took thirty curtain calls.

(INTRODUCE AND PLAY UNDER THE SLEEPWALKING SCENE FROM MACBETH)

His friend, the poet, Guiseppe Giusti wrote to him:
GIUSTI:
Guiseppe Giusti
Guiseppe Giusti
The more your work is performed the more it will be understood and enjoyed. Do not lose the chance to express with your music the sweet sadness that resounds most in our souls. The sorrow that now fills the hearts of Italians is the sorrow of a people in need of a better future.

My Verdi accompany this noble and lofty sorrow with your noble harmonies: nourish it, fortify it, direct it to its goal.

(BRING UP MACBETH AND PLAY OUT)
NARRATOR: At this time Verdi was described by the French publisher Monsieur Marie Escudier.
ESCUDIER:
Guiseppe Verdi
Guiseppe Verdi
I had been given a a wholly misleading idea of his character, which was said to be that of a cold uncommunicative man, who was always absorbed in his art. Verdi welcomed me affably and he showed a completely French graciousness. He demonstrated considerable knowledge of French music.

He is a handsome young man, about 29 years old. He has brown hair, blue eyes, and an expression that is sweet and vivacious at the same time. Everything about him suggests an honest heart and a sensitive soul.
NARRATOR: During the mid 1840's Verdi's stature as a national figure steadily increased. Italians had no other visible, tangible, accessible, forceful lay person to symbolize their growing nationalist fervour. Andrea Maffei wrote a sonnet to "Guiseppe Verdi: the Glory of Italy". It contained the words:
MAFFEI: You bring joys and delights to the soul . . .
You are the heart of Italian music.
You live and reign in every heart.
What do you fear? You are the Apex of Glory.
The words Verdi and Victory ring out together.

(ESTABLISH AND THEN WEAVE UNDER I MASNADIERI)
NARRATOR:

I Masnadieri





VERDI:


NARRATOR:


QUEEN VICTORIA:
Jenny Lind
Jenny Lind
In 1847 Verdi visited London for the premiere of his I Masnadieri, (The Robbers) at Her Majesty's Theatre. Jenny Lind, the 'Swedish nightingale' sang in it and Queen Victoria attended the first night. It was not the most successful of his operas, but as he said:

Although it did not create a furore, it did have a success that brought me a lot of money.

He probably did not know that Queen Victoria wrote in her diary:

his music is very noisy and trivial
NARRATOR: In any case, having been initially horrified by the noise and pollution of London, Verdi left with a better opinion.
VERDI: It is not a city, but a world: nothing can be compared to its size, is wealth, the beauty of its streets, the cleanliness of its houses.

(BRING UP I MASNADIERI AND PLAY OUT)
NARRATOR:








STREPPONI'S HAND:

VERDI'S HAND
Giuseppina Strepponi
Giuseppina Strepponi
On his way back to Italy he stayed a long time in Paris. Giuseppina Strepponi was now teaching music there. They worked together on the script of Jerusalem, as the French version of I Lombardi was called. One of the most romantic discoveries of recent years is a manuscript with lines written in their their diffent handwritings:

Alas! Hope is banished. My glory has faded!
Family . . . . Fatherland . . . all I have lost!

No, I am still left you! And it will be for life!
STREPPONI'S HAND: Angel from heaven! . . . May I die in the arms of a husband!
VERDI'S HAND: Let me die with you! My death will be . . .
STREPPONI'S HAND: . . . sweet.
NARRATOR:
Map of Italy 1848
Map of Italy 1848
Verdi stayed in Paris for 1848 and much of 1849. This was a time of revolution. King Louis Philippe of France was deposed. Prince Louis Bonaparte returned to to Paris from London and France was declared a republic.

Meanwhile there were uprisings against the Austrians in Milan and and against the Papal States in Rome. Verdi returned to Italy.
VERDI:








NARRATOR:
Milan 1848
Milan 1848
I left immediately after hearing the news, but I only got to see those stupendous barricades and not the fighting. Honour to these heroes! Let us all lend each other a brotherly hand, and Italy will again become the foremost nation in the world!

These revolts were short lived and by the beginning of 1849 Austria had re-established its rule; and with the help of the French the Pope returned to Rome in 1850.

Meanwhile Strepponi followed Verdi to Italy. He was in Busseto with his family and in laws. Strepponi wrote to him:
STREPPONI: In Busetto do people forget how to love? I am not yet there, but I still know how to tell you what I feel, you ugly wretched monster!
Addio, I barely have time to tell you I detest you and I embrace you. Peppina.
NARRATOR:
Villa Verdi Sant'Agata
Villa Verdi Sant'Agata
She and Verdi were nervous; for it would be difficult to present his mistress, and the mother of illegitimate children to his parents, in-laws and the respectable people of Busetto. At their home at nearby Sant`Agata, Giuseppina occupied one bedroom on the ground floor leading out into the garden, while Verdi worked late into the night next door. He liked his estates. Giuseppina described how:
STREPPONI: His love for the country has become a mania, madness, rage, fury, everything exaggerated that you can say. He gets up almost at dawn to look at the wheat. the corn, the grapevines etc. He comes back dropping with fatigue.
NARRATOR:

Rigoletto: La Dona E Mobile













VERDI:
He fell out with his father who no doubt objected to the menage with Giuseppina. Father and son separated 'in residence and in husiness'. He provided his parents with a horse and an allowance. In this era. a person's concern for their parents was regarded as a measure of their character, and Verdi's treatment of his parents displeased the residents of Busseto. They were 'shocked' by the menage. They cut Giuseppina in the street and cold-shouldered her in church.

(ESTABLISH LA DONA E MOBILE FROM RIGOLETTO AND WEAVE UNDER)

The Hunchback Jester
Tribolet, later
called Rigoletto,
the Hunchback Jester
In 1850 a new opera was commissioned by the Fenice Theatre in Venice. Verdi came across Le Roi S'Amuse by Victor Hugo. The play had caused a scandal when produced in Paris.

It is perhaps the greatest drama of modern times. The character of Tribolet is worthy of Shakespeare, one of the most important creations of the theatre of all countries and all Ages.

An unhappy father, who weeps over his daughter's honour, which has been stolen; mocked by a court jester, whom the father curses; and this curse strikes the jester in the most terrifying way. All this seems moral to me and great, stupendously great.
NARRRATOR: However the original drama portrayed Francis I of France as a lecher and debauchee. The Austrian censor and Military Governor de Gorzkowski dictated:
DE GORSKOWSKI: I deplore the fact that the famous Maestro Verdi chose such a repugnant example of immorality and obscene triviality. His Excellency absolutely prohibits this production.
NARRATOR: As ever Verdi stuck to his guns. A compromise was agreed whereby the action was removed from the French court to a non-existent duchy and the characters names were changed. The first night was a triumph and the Duke's cynical aria, La donna e mobile, was sung in the gondolas of Venice the next morning.

(BRING UP LA DONA E MOBILE AND PLAY OUT)
NARRATOR:

Bella Figlia
Verdi was to go on in fairly quick succession to write another two of his most successful operas: Trovatore and Traviata

Meanwhile another highlight from Rigoletto was the quartet Bella Figlia.

(INTRODUCE BELLA FIGLIA AND WEAVE THROUGH THE FOLLOWING DIALOGUE)
THE DUKE: Sweet daughter of love,
I am slave to your charms;
With a word you could heal my pain.
Come, touch my breast
Feel how my heart trembles.
MADDALENA: You make me laugh;
Talk is cheap.
I know your tricks
I'm used to jokes like yours.
GILDA: Ah, these are the loving words
The scoundrel spoke once to me!
O wretched heart betrayed
Do not break for sorrow.
RIGOLETTO: (TO GILDA) Hush weeping can do no good...
Now you know he was lying
Leave it to me to hasten our revenge.
It will be quick, it will be deadly

Listen to me, go home.
Take some money and a horse,
Put on the men's clothes I provided.
Leave at once for Verona.
I shall meet you there tomorrow.
GILDA: Come with me now.
RIGOLETTO: It's impossible.
GILDA: I'm afraid.
RIGOLETTO: Go!

(BRING UP BELLA FIGLIA AND PLAY OUT)

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