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.
Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 9:36 am
Close your eyes, and you may think that this is 1913. In the past few days, the classical music community has been set aflame by recent comments from three prominent male conductors who are — steel yourself — actually saying that women are not capable of standing on the podium.
Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 10:52 am
It's that time of year again when freshly steamed curtains are rising on opera stages across the country, introducing another new season of performances. And this time, one composer will be popping up more than usual — Giuseppe Verdi.
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.
Most opera singers work their way to the big league by singing bit parts in regional opera houses. Not soprano Angela Meade. She landed on top instantly with her professional debut in the lead soprano role of Giuseppe Verdi's Ernani at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2008.
It was a dream come true. The star soprano took ill and the understudy, Meade, was suddenly shoved into the spotlight. The press said she sang "like an old pro from start to finish."
Cellist and composer Erik Friedlander lost his wife of many years, dancer and choreographer Lynn Shapiro, to breast cancer in 2011. She'd been diagnosed a decade earlier, and Friedlander says music became a place of vital release for him as her condition worsened.
"During the difficult years, I did take refuge in working," he says. "It was a place where I could make the rules; where I could control what I could control."