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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting Nerdy with Verdi

or...It's Joe Green Day! (because I said so.)
Giuseppe Verdi

Today marks the anniversary of the 1842 premiere of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Nabucco in Milan. Nabucco, which tells the story of the Bablyonlian captivity, was the third of Verdi's 26 operas, and his first huge success.

Part of that success was due to the chorus "Va, pensiero", which became the fight song of the Risorgimento, the nationalist movement that led to the (eventual) unification of Italy. This started a trend in early Verdi operas as well, the inclusion of "patriotic" choruses going all the way up to "Patria oppressa" in Macbeth and the "Rataplan" in La Forza del Destino.

And here it is:


Just for fun, here's a run-down of all the Verdi operas, and how many times I've seen them, and heard recordings and whatnot, to the best of my recollection.

Oberto: Il Comte de Bonifacio: Never seen it. Heard the overture though.

Un Giorno di Regno: Never see it, never heard it, except for the overture.

Nabucco: I have the DG recording with Giuseppe Sinopoli conducting.

I Lombardi: The excellent Lamberto Gardelli recording, and saw the Met telecast with Luciano Pavarotti and Samuel Ramey. This opera was later rewritten as Gerusalemme, which I've never seen or heard.

Ernani: Twice at the Met, and will probably see it again next year.

I Due Foscari: Seen it on DVD, from La Scala.

Giovanna d'Arco: Never seen it. Never heard it. Don't know it.

Alizira: Never seen it. I own the recording with Fabio Luisi.

Attila: I own the Gardelli recording. I first saw Attila with Sam Ramey at the City Opera in the '80s. I've seen it hmmmm...four times in three different productions.

Macbeth: Seen it four times (three different productions) and once on video. I own the Claudio Abbado recording.

I Masnadieri: In my youth, I owned the two commercial recordings, one with Sutherland. Both are excellent. Both are out of print.

Il Corsaro: I used to own the out of print Philips recording.

La Battaglia del Legnano: I own the Philips recording, and saw this opera in Central Park conducted by the great Vincent La Selva.


Stiffelio: This used to be the most obscure early Verdi opera. It enjoyed a revival of interest in recent decades. I've seen the Met production three times, and own a good recording made by Lamberto Gardelli. It was later rewritten as Aroldo, which I've never seen.

Rigoletto: I'm a Rigoletto geek. It's the only opera I saw Pavarotti in, at the Met. I've seen it at least ten times, which puts it up there with Barber, and I have siix recordings of the opera.

Il Trovatore: I've seen this opera seven times at the Met, in three different productions. I have three recordings of the opera, and one on DVD.

La Traviata: I have four different recordings. Seen three different
productions at the Met (that's five performances, total) and three different stagings at City Opera. So eight or nine times.

I vespri Siciliani: Seen it on DVD from La Scala, and I have the old Levine recording.

Simon Boccanegra: Six times at the Met. I have the Abbado recording which is the one to own.

Un Ballo in Maschera I have the Abbado recording. Seen it twice.

La Forza del Destino I have three recordings of Forza. Seen it once, at the Met in 2006.

Don Carlo/Don Carlos: Seen it six times and one telecast. I own six different Don Carlos recordings, two DVDs of the opera, and there's a new one coming out.

Aida: I've seen the Met production of Aida eight or nine times. First opera I ever saw at the Met in 1990. I have five different recordings and two on DVD.

Otello: Once, with Johan Botha as the Moor. I own three recordings: two with Jon Vickers in the title role and one with Mario del Monaco, which is simply the loudest opera recording ever made.

Falstaff: Two different productions at New York City Opera, once at Glimmerglass Opera, and the last performances of the old Zeffirelli production at the Met with Bryn Terfel. I have a DVD of it and I own three recordings of Falstaff.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.