Verdi’s last opera Falstaff relates to Verdi’s late years when after the enormous success of Otello no one expected him to create yet another opera. A pleasant routine Verdi and Giuseppina had a pleasant life routine at that stage. They used to spend winters in Genoa; the beginning of spring in Milan attending music events; the end of spring and most part of summer in Sant’Agata, where the composer attended business such as the collection of rent payments, purchase of seeds, repairs, new buildings works. Yet his friend, librettist and composer Arrigo Boito noticed how much Verdi missed composing and for that reason started to insist in working together on something new, an opera that could end his career in an even better way than Otello, a “triumph with a laughter”. Triumph with a laughter The idea came out during a conversation between Boito and Verdi. By May 1889 Boito had already sketched the libretto from Shakespeare’s Henry IV (1597) and The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602). Verdi, who had considered a comic subject before, at that stage was worried for not being able to complete it: “What would happen if I won’t overcome my weakness…If I won’t be able to finish […]
Vincenzo Bellini maintained throughout his life a strong bond with his hometown, where he lived till the age of 16. Some argue that his rejection for rules and rutine resulted somehow from that archaic and provincial world. Born to “seduce and conquest” Bellini indeed broke into the Italian musical lands cape as someone coming from another world. May be that’s part of the reason why he was able unveil and unleash the potential of musical drama, far and beyond the traditional bonds and cliché of the Neapolitan school.
I Capuleti e i Montecchi is considered by many Bellini’s first masterpiece. It certainly recalls in many ways the great belcanto era, particularly in the way the roles are organized: the mezzo-soprano as male protagonist, the soprano as his lover, the tenor as the hero’s rival, bass and bariton respectively as the noble father and the tyrant. However, Capuleti is not strictly a belcanto opera because of its intimate and at times dramatic atmosphere. So much so that the many embellishments, counterbalanced by a well-defined melodic core, are not ornamentation anymore but start to take an expressive connotation.
Verismo composers were mainly opera composers; the new generation of composers was different, more eclectic. Franco Alfano’s two symphonies, among the most relevant Italian compositions of the first half of the 20th century as well as Zandonai’s remarkable collection of orchestral and chamber works show that their non-operatic compositions weren’t certainly occasional. Franco Alfano, as most knows, composed the music for the last 2 scenes of Turandot, Puccini’s last opera left unfinished after the composer’s death in 1924. Puccini had left sketches for the end of the opera, along with instructions to Riccardo Zandonai to finish it, yet, following Puccini’s son objections, to work on the draft and finish the opera, was instead chosen Franco Alfano. Both Alfano and Zandonai can be defined as “operatic symphonists” : they embodied a new way to define the relationship between music and drama. The drama was no longer described by the music; it was precisely the opposite: the drama provided the frame to the music. This process can be seen at its most in Zandonai’s Francesca where entire acts can be defined as symphonic poems. Since 1890 Wagner’s scores had spread widely in Italy. The scale and magnificence of the composer’s major works led […]