Celebrating the Verdi Anniversary

This Sunday, I will be speaking about blogging and the Verdi anniversary on a panel at Verdi’s Third Century, a conference put on by the American Institute for Verdi Studies (at New York University). In the spirit of blogging, this discussion wouldn’t be complete without your thoughts! I would like to talk about how the Verdi anniversary has been recognized outside academia, and would love to hear your thoughts, recent Verdi experiences, and so on (comment at the bottom of this post!).

(I am also giving a formal paper about ritual and repetition in Verdi production. Sorry, you can’t contribute to that one unless you show up to ask a question afterwards.)

I asked around on Twitter a few days ago and got some interesting thoughts. Many immediately confirmed my initial suspicion: Verdi Year mostly means seeing more Verdi. Verdi is at the core of most modern opera houses, and a few more Traviatas and maybe a Stiffelio tend to sneak into people’s schedules without a major fuss.

First: a lesson on social media. I put this question up around 8:30 in the morning, before I started work. No one responded. A few hours later I wondered out loud if that meant no one cared, and it turned out I was just too early, and suddenly everyone wanted to chat (this explains the tweet everyone is responding to below). Thanks to a retweet from the Royal Opera House, I got a lot of British responses.

As Lucy put it,

For some people this was not entirely welcome:

There’s also the 800-pound gorilla: Wagner. Verdi had competition, and seems to have been the less recognized of the two.

 I suspect there’s a different kind of engagement between Wagner and Verdi audiences. Wagner audiences form societies and go to conferences (I went to a Wagner conference in January that had a handful of non-academics who flew to South Carolina just to hear papers about Wagner), while Verdi audiences tend to just go to operas. I liked Ruth’s theory on this:

 This was backed up by some of the other responses:

What has Verdi done for you recently? Please leave a comment or email me at likelyimpossibilities at gmail.com.

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  1. "There's also the 800-pound gorilla: Wagner. Verdi had competition, and seems to have been the less recognized of the two."

    But, this June the Bay. Staats. took a poll of its public as to whom they liked better, Wagner or Verdi. Verdi won two to one. And this in Munich.

    In Berlin the Deutsche Oper is offering an all-Verdi November. Six operas, admittedly six I have seen 87 times, but casts and productions are good.

  2. Disappointing response at SFO to both the Verdi & Wagner bicentennials: Lohengrin last season, Dutchman this; Attila last year, Falstaff and Traviata this year. Okay, I'm always happy to see Falstaff, and I'm glad they trotted out Attila (a rarity), but more Traviata? Noooooo.

    Oh, yeah, we have the Requiem, too. I didn't get a ticket. After two great performances at SFS with Conlon, I can give it a pass.

    What a missed opportunity to explore the best of the pre-Rigoletto operas: Ernani, for example, or Luisa Miller or the super-rare Il Corsaro.

    What does it mean to me? Well, I should be reading Budden and Matz, but am?

  3. You raise quite a fascinating point about the perceptions and responses to these seminal composers. Yesterday Anthony Tommasini was in town (Cincinnati) to discuss productions of Wagner operas–he also spoke on Wagner's debt to Beethoven. It was at 2:30 in the afternoon and the room was packed with folks from the local Wagner Society; as I overheard one of their members say, "The usual suspects are here."
    Verdi is the iconic operatic composer who wrote such a broad spectrum of works and who was certainly a man of the theater and at times a difficult man, but nowhere in the same universe as Wagner, who revolutionized how opera is created and produced. Wagner's frequently disturbing essays and bigotry were embraced by the insanity of Nazi Germany, giving more fodder for the Wagner mill. When you have a German megalomaniac going up an equally formidable genius who essentially remained a farmer from Busetto, it's no surprise that Wagner wins out in that arena. Even La Scala's season opened with Lohengrin.

  4. The reaction in Canada was predictable. COC did Tristan (yay!). Montreal remounted the Dutchman seen at COC a couple of years back. But elsewhere it was wall to wall Verdi, and the warhorses at that, as companies took the opportunity to refill their coffers with can't lose productions of Traviata, Falstaff etc. Calgary even did an all Verdi season.