This is FRESH AIR. At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation and one of the most versatile. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews two of his recordings this year, dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.
My first exposure to the music of Guiseppe Verdi came in high school. Fred Junkin, the director of the Victoria High School Band, chose Verdi's "Overture to La Forza del Destino" for one of our contest pieces. The drama of the piece stuck with me, such that as a professional musician and devoted listener to classical music, my heart still responds to Verdi's restless score.
Two hundred years ago today, in a small northern Italian village, a couple named Verdi — tavern owners by trade — welcomed the birth of a baby boy who would later change the face of opera forever. And, whether we recognize it or not, on the bicentennial of his birth, Giuseppe Verdi is still vital.
In his operas, Giuseppe Verdi had a knack for empowering marginalized people — like the title character of Aida, who is an enslaved Ethiopian princess (played in this 2011 French production by American soprano Indra Thomas).
Two hundred years ago this week, Giuseppe Verdi was born in an Italian town midway between Bologna and Milan. On the occasion of his bicentennial, All Things Considered wanted to know what makes the great opera composer so enduring — why his work is still so frequently discussed and performed these two centuries later. The answer, says conductor and arranger John Mauceri, is that Verdi had a knack for making thorny topics accessible.
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:16 am
At the opening of Anna Netrebko's new album, Verdi, we find her in the role of Lady Macbeth, reading a letter confirming the fulfillment of a prophecy made by Shakespeare's (and Verdi's) infamous witches.
You may not know the name Marie Duplessis, but odds are you know some stories about her. She inspired a French novel, which was turned into a successful play, several movies (including one starring Greta Garbo), a ballet and, most famously, a great Italian opera — La Traviata.
There are a handful of operas that define the genre; their time period irrelevant and their themes go to the very heart of the human condition.
We live with these creations daily without our knowing it and they are the very musical air we breath. They exist in the opera house, on the the concert stage (without scenery), in the recital hall (as excerpts, arranged for piano), in the elevator, on the radio, in the lightest cartoons and the darkest dramas - and yes, in the shower.