Verdi’s Views

John Rosselli

  • Verdi: A Life in the Theatre by Charles Osborne
    Weidenfeld, 360 pp, £18.00, June 1987, ISBN 0 297 79117 6

Few creative artists have moved forward on as broad a front as Verdi has in the past half-century. Just before the Second World War he remained, for the public at large, the composer of three or four indestructibly popular operas; for highbrows, the late-maturing author of Otello and Falstaff. There had been, since the late Twenties, a Verdi ‘renaissance’, limited in scope and audience. A clever music student still winced automatically at the sound of a tune from La Traviata. Even Dyneley Hussey’s 1940 volume in the ‘Master Musicians’ series, a work inspired by the (mainly German-led) ‘renaissance’, showed how many of the operas were out of currency. Some of them Hussey cannot have heard: if he had, he would scarcely have pronounced I Due Foscari ‘dead past revival’. Others like Don Carlos were still in eclipse as stage works, though admired by musicians.

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[*] Giuseppe Verdi: ‘Otello’ (Cambridge, 209 pp., £22.50, 18 June, 0 521 25885 5) and Giuseppe Verdi: ‘Falstaff’ (Cambridge, 192 pp., £22.50, 10 November 1983, 0 521 235 340).