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Giuseppe Verdi
Suggested Reading



The Operas of Verdi: Volume 1
(Julian Budden)
Together with Volume 2 and Volume 3.

The three volumes of studies of Verdi's operas by Julian Budden are, rightly, classics of the genre. This is owing to their scope of information on the genesis, circumstances, variants, and specifics of the operas themselves--certainly the fullest description these works have ever been given--as well as to the wealth of surrounding information about the composer, his life, his friends, and his times. It is a measure of the excellence of Budden's achievement that this cornucopia of information is surveyed in very readable prose--readers get a picture of each work within its context. Budden's knowledge of 19th-century opera--both in Italy and in France--is wide-ranging, and he is able to place Verdi and his works in comparison with those of Donizetti, Pacini, Mercadante, and Meyerbeer. He discusses how the great operatic genius emerged from the background of early-19th-century opera and how Verdi's own early, uneven works blossomed into the glory of his later ones. Budden, thankfully, is not a hagiographer, and he recognizes Verdi's faults as well as his strengths, but few--if any--writers have managed to demonstrate how Verdi both blended in with his musical surroundings and stood out from them. These studies, with all their richness, are a good source of information about a host of lesser composers of the time. Budden includes many musical examples to highlight his writing in this, a work of scholarship of the highest order.

The Verdi-Boito Correspondence
(Marcello Conati and Mario Medici, editors)
These 301 letters between Giuseppe Verdi and his last, most gifted librettist, Arrigo Boito, document an extraordinary chapter in musical history. Now available for the first time in English, this correspondence records both a unique friendship and its creative legacy.

Verdi With a Vengeance : An Energetic Guide to the Life and Complete Works of the King of Opera
(William Berger)
If you want to know why La traviata was actually a flop at its premiere in 1853, it's in here. If you want to know why claiming to have heard Bjorling's Chicago performance of Il trovatore is the classic opera fan faux pas, it's in here. Even if you just want to know how to pronounce Aida, or what the plot of Rigoletto is all about, this is the place to look. From the composer's intense hatred of priests to synopses of the operas and a detailed discography of the best recordings to buy, it can all be found in Verdi with a Vengeance. William Berger has given another improbable performance, serving up a book as thorough as it is funny and as original as it is astute, an utterly indispensable guide for novice and expert alike.

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