Who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Verdi is a man who is associated with William Shakespeare, Wolfgang Mozart and Richard Wagner operas.

A Verdi opera and a Wagner opera are the staples of opera music. Both Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi operas are performed at many an opera theatre or opera house around the world. A Wagner operas list and a Verdi operas list are truly impressive. Some Verdi operas are based on the literary works of Shakespeare.

Mozart is better known for his classical music. However, opera Mozart festivals are gaining in popularity. But, then Mozart music is beloved by classical music lovers.

A Verdi opera list is available.


Discover Who is Giuseppe Verdi?


Listen to Opera Music Online:

The above audio recording of the opera choir chorus “Fuoco di gioia” is from the opera Otello by Giuseppe Verdi based on William Shakespeare’s drama Othello. In Act I, Otello/Othello returns from a successful military campaign and is greeted in triumph by the people of Cyprus.

The above audio recording is performed by the K&K Philharmoniker, the K&K Opernchor and conducted by Myron Yusypovych (Myron Jussipowitsch). The recording was done LIVE at the Herkulessaal of the Münchener Residenz, Munich, Germany.


A Short “Who is Giuseppe Verdi?” Biography

Who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Who is Giuseppe Verdi?
Who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) is an Italian opera composer, who lived during the 19th century:

  • born on October 9/10, 1813
  • began playing the church organ at age 7
  • began formal lessons in classical musical scholarship at age 12
  • his first opera librettist was Temistocle Solera (1815-1878)
  • after the death of his children (1838, 1839) and wife (1840), fell into a period of depression
  • premiere of opera Nabucco (with its great Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) on his 29th birthday provided a new lease on life
  • composed over 25 operas
  • died on January 27, 1901

Who is William Shakespeare and His Relationship to G. Verdi?

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), a music composer, appears to have been very interested in the literary works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).

Verdi did not know English. Therefore, his appreciation of Shakespeare was through various available Italian translations. Additionally, his second wife Giuseppina Strepponi (1815-1897), spoke English. It is claimed that Strepponi helped Verdi with interpreting Shakespeare’s works from the original English.

Shakespeare and Verdi?
Shakespeare and Verdi?

Verdi based 3 of his operas on the literary works of Shakespeare:

  • Macbeth – premiered on March 14, 1847
  • Otello, based on Shakespeare’s Othello – premiered on February 5, 1887
  • Falstaff – premiered on February 9, 1893

So, who is William Shakespeare? And, who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Shakespeare and Verdi lived at different times – 2.5 centuries apart. However, for Verdi, Shakespeare became a literary inspiration.


Who is Taras Shevchenko and His Relationship to G. Verdi?

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), a composer, and Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), a poet and artist, were contemporaries.

Interestingly, G. Verdi and T. Shevchenko were born on the same day – but, 5 months apart. Giuseppe Verdi was born on October 9. Taras Shevchenko was born on March 9.

Both Verdi and Shevchenko wanted to free their native lands from imperial oppressors – Verdi his beloved Italy from Hapsburg rule and Shevchenko his beloved Ukraine from Romanoff rule.

As Paul Robinson of Stanford University states:

“Of all the great opera composers, Verdi is the most political… As a frequent victim of political censorship himself, he was readily drawn to the ideals of individual freedom and self-determination, and he was no less ardently committed to delivering Italy from her Hapsburg oppressors…”
Robinson, Paul (1985). Opera and Ideas, p.155

And, Dmytro Chub (a.k.a. Dmytro Nytczenko), a literary researcher in Australia states:

“Probably the most important facet of Shevchenko’s nature, which pervaded his entire creative output, was his exceptional love for Ukraine, for his people… for Ukraine’s struggle against its oppressor – Russia…”
Chub, Dmytro (1985). Shevchenko: The Man, p.85

It is often claimed in popular biographies that both Giuseppe Verdi and Taras Shevchenko came from humble (read: low class) beginnings. In both cases, this is not true.

Yes, Shevchenko’s mother was a serf and Verdi’s mother was a spinner / seamstress. But, that was life for women in the 19th century. This is not the place to delve into the intricacies of 19th century social class and structure. Suffice it to say that both Verdi and Shevchenko were born into families that valued literacy and education. Both learned to read and write from an early age. Both received an education of the type that was prevalent during the period in which they lived.

Shevchenko and Verdi?
Shevchenko and Verdi?

So, who is Taras Shevchenko? And, who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Shevchenko and Verdi were both born during a time of developing national consciousness in Europe. Both Verdi and Shevchenko were defenders of national and personal freedom, as well as, supporters of the struggle against foreign oppression. Both were a unifying force in their people’s claim to freedom and unification.


Who is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and His Relationship to G. Verdi?

There are some interesting and fun facts that connect Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) – both of whom are highly regarded music composers.

At birth, Verdi was registered under the name Joseph Fortunin François:

  • Joseph (French) = Giuseppe (Italian) – his father’s second name – Carlo Giuseppe Verdi (1785-1867)
  • Fortunin (French) = Fortunino (Italian)
  • François (French) = Francesco (Italian) – meaning “French”!?!

Giuseppe Verdi was born at a time when Italy did not exist and the village and geographical region in which he was born was part of the First French Empire (1804-1814), also known as the Napoleonic Empire. It is worth noting that Verdi had a younger sister named Giuseppina, who was also given the female equivalent of Francesca (“French”) – Giuseppina Francesca Verdi (1816-1833).

At birth, Mozart was registered under the name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus:

  • Johannes Chrysostomus – St.John the Baptist (Latin) whose feast day was on January 27, the day of Mozart’s birth
  • Wolfgangus – his maternal grandfather Wolfgang Nicolaus Pertl (1667-1724), Latin version of the German name
  • Theophilus – his godfather Joannes Theophilus Pergmayr, a Greek name rendered as Amadeus in Latin and meaning “loved by God”.

Wolfgang Mozart was born at a time when Austria did not exist and the City of Salzburg, in which he was born, was part of the Holy Roman Empire (800-1806).

Mozart and Verdi?
Mozart and Verdi?

Both Verdi and Mozart wrote a Requiem in the final years of their lives.

But what often fascinates people is the fact that Giuseppe Verdi died (January 27, 1901) on the 145th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth (January 27, 1756).

So, who is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? And, who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Mozart and Verdi were named according to the political and religious traditions of their time. Both chose to call themselves otherwise. Interestingly, both chose to compose a Requiem at the end of their lives.


Who is Richard Wagner and His Relationship to G. Verdi?

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Richard Wagner (1813-1883) are both renowned classical opera composers, who were born in the same year (1813). Wagner was born in May, 1813 and Verdi was born five months later in October, 1813.

Giuseppe Verdi was married twice:

  • Margherita Barezzi (1814-1840), whom he married in 1836
  • Giuseppina Strepponi (1815-1897), whom he married in 1859

Richard Wagner was married twice:

  • Minna Planner (1809-1866), whom he married in 1836
  • Cosima Wagner (1837-1930), whom he married in 1870

So, both Verdi and Wagner had 2 wives and married their first wife the same year. Both first wives passed away during the marriage.

Verdi and Wagner had very different approaches to the themes and stories that they chose for their operas. (They also had very different musical styles. But, that is a story for another day.)

Wagner and Verdi?
Wagner and Verdi?

Richard Wagner mostly chose pre-Christian myths and legends of the Germanic peoples for his plot lines. Since Wagner also was both librettist and composer, he had complete control over both.

Giuseppe Verdi turned to the works of literary giants for inspiration:

  • William Shakespeare
  • Johann Cristoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), a German language poet and dramatist who wrote Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien (1787), which became the inspiration for Verdi’s French language opera Don Carlos (March, 1867) and the subsequent Italian adaptation of Don Carlo (June, 1867).
  • Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), a French language dramatist who wrote the novel La Dame aux Camélias (1848) and a subsequent play of the same name (1852), which became the inspiration for Verdi’s opera La traviata (1853).
  • Victor Hugo (1802-1885), who wrote the play Le Roi s’amuse (1832), which became the inspiration for Verdi’s opera Rigoletto (1851). It is worth noting that Verdi, together with his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, adapted Hugo’s original play in order to bypass the Austrian censors. Additionally, Verdi based his opera Ernani (1844) on Hugo’s play Hernani, ou l’Honner Castillan (1830).

  • Listen to Opera Music Online: The Grand Opening Chorus from Ernani

So, who is Richard Wagner? And, who is Giuseppe Verdi?

Wagner and Verdi composed some of the greatest operas of our time. Many (if not most) of their operas are lengthy. Interestingly, Wagner and Verdi never personally met. It is claimed that they did not like each other’s music.

And, this ends our non-standard interpretation of “Who is Giuseppe Verdi?”

text by: Oksana A. Wynnyckyj-Yusypovych


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