Verdi With a Vengeance: An Energetic Guide to the Life and Complete Works of the King of Opera

Verdi With a Vengeance: An Energetic Guide to the Life and Complete Works of the King of Opera

William Berger

Language: English

Pages: 512

ISBN: 037570518X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Everything you could possibly know about Verdi and his operas, from the brilliant and humorous author of Wagner Without Fear.

If you want to know why La traviata was actually a flop at its premiere in 1853, it's in here.  If you want to know why claiming to have heard Bjorling's Chicago performance of Il trovatore is the classic opera fan faux pas, it's in here.  Even if you just want to know how to pronounce Aida, or what the plot of Rigoletto is all about, this is the place to look.  From the composer's intense hatred of priests to synopses of the operas and a detailed discography of the best recordings to buy, it can all be found in Verdi with a Vengeance.  William Berger has given another improbable performance, serving up a book as thorough as it is funny and as original as it is astute, an utterly indispensable guide for novice and expert alike.

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(“Dies irae.”) Nothing will remain unpunished. (“Dies irae,” etc.) Comment: This section is superbly dramatic, with the mezzo singing an intense solo sounding, in fact, a lot like Amneris in Aida. The interesting scoring in the orchestra and the whispered punctuations of “Dies irae” from the chorus, however, give the sense that her terror is inward while she is standing silent before God, who is reading the book of her life. Not to be frivolous, but it is not unlike sitting across the desk from

says, on the ground, in the slime, she weeps. Once her smile brought hope and kisses, now there is only anguish in her heart. Emilia admires Desdemona’s noble suffering, Cassio wonders at the fateful hour, bringing him honor he had not sought, Lodovico marvels at Otello’s behavior, Roderigo bemoans that Desdemona will leave the island, while the ladies call for mercy and the gentlemen are astounded. All are absorbed in their thoughts and reactions, and do not notice Iago speaking to Otello. Let

Bardolfo announces a Master Brook (“Fontana”). Ford enters, disguised. He introduces himself as a man of means. Falstaff is delighted to meet him. “Brook” wants a word in confidence, and Falstaff dismisses Bardolfo and Pistola, who are commenting on Ford’s excellent deception. Ford jingles a purse of gold coins at Falstaff. He is in love with Alice Ford, but she is not the least bit impressed by his protestations, not even when he serenaded her under her window. Falstaff begins to sing a love

little girls, dressed as fairies. They form a circle around Falstaff, who remains motionless. Nannetta leads a song about the lithe spirits of the nights, tripping from flower to flower. All the others appear in costumes and disguises. They cry out that a mortal is spotted in their ethereal realm. A huge, horned ship of a man! They order Falstaff to rise up, but he remains motionless. Alice tells Nannetta to hide, since Dr. Caius is already trying to make a move. Nannetta hides nearby. Alice,

even attend Mass there. The Bussetani were annoyed by what they perceived as a snub, but they could only revile Verdi up to a point. He had, after all, put their town on the map. Instead, they vented their contempt toward the supposedly conniving, “foreign” woman who had stolen their famous native son from their affections. In effect, Strepponi became the Yoko Ono of Busseto. Barezzi, after a brief cooling period, maintained his bond with Verdi, but Verdi’s biological father Carlo was having

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