Kristina Kolar, Giorgio Surian (2)

VERDI’S FASCINATION WITH SHAKESPEARE

16 April 2018

Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901) composed for more than half a century; he was the most popular and influential opera composer of all times, the most prominent personality of the Italian history of opera. His operas form the foundations of the world operatic repertoire nowadays. Relying on Shakespeare, who he adored, Verdi rendered the culmination of his exceptional achievements in Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff.

Most of the operas that were based on Shakespeare’s works in the nineteenth century in Italy, France and Germany were created after bad translations, while Verdi abhorred it. He worked hard researching, comparing older and more recent translations, consulting expert translators and those who had seen productions of Shakespeare’s plays in England, all to be as true and close as possible to the words of the great Shakespeare. After Verdi’s drafts, his librettist Francesco Maria Piave wrote the libretto for Macbeth, while Verdi corrected, suggested, shortened and insisted on fewer words. Macbeth (1847) is a rare opera which does not recline on conventional romantic love – there are vivid characters and a story filled with blood, there are Macbeth, his Lady Macbeth and there are witches. In such a combination love cannot be found, there is no place for love in a drama on the greedy wish for power. Four decades later, Verdi will be on the stage, again with Shakespeare in the two of his last operas, Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893), with the dedicated co-operation of the master of writing Arrigo Boito. Characters are preserved, key scenes, the verses and prose are set to music and singing. In Otello, it is the character that you plunge into, its essence, relations and conflicts. With Falstaff, the unexpected, especially after Otello, going back to the tradition of the comic opera with which he had an unsuccessful encounter at the beginning of his career. After years of sketching Falstaff after Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor and in the tradition of the Italian opera buffa, Verdi created a work that bursts with humour in each of its measures. After the tragic and melancholic endings, the last work was crowned with an amazing finale, the fugue “Tutto nel mondo è burla/Everything in the world is a joke/”, and he who laughs last, laughs best.

In the three weeks, the Rijeka Opera stages a unique Trilogy Verdi – Shakespeare – Surian.

The premiere of Macbeth was on 14th April, while reruns are on 16th and 18th April at 19 hours.

The performance of Otello as part of the Trilogy is on 23rd April at 19 hours.

The premiere of Falstaff follows on 7th May at 19 hours, while reruns are on 10th May at 19 hours and 12th May at 18 hours.