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Verdi, Voltaire and the Americas

Giuseppe Verdi, Vanity Fair 1879

Giuseppe Verdi, Vanity Fair 1879

The Tuesday Night Opera, 8:00 PM

Peter van de Graaff continues his year-long celebration of Verdi at 200 with this little-known work, Alzira, written for the opera house in Naples. Verdi bases the work on a play by Voltaire called Alzire, ou les Américains, which places the action amid the Inca’s struggle against the Spanish conquistadors. The exotic setting and love triangle seem to have had greater appeal to the composer than did Voltaire’s social commentary. He does find in it a familiar, if not conventional theme for Italian opera: the maiden agrees to marry the wicked lord in order to spare the life of her beloved. Nevertheless this compact opera, lasting only ninety minutes, is the work of the great Italian master, and well worth a hearing.

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