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Verdi Month

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi, born October 10, 1813, died January 27, 1901

A Note from our program director:

October affords us the opportunity to pay tribute to the other giant of the opera world whose 200th birthday we’re celebrating this year (that is, in addition to Richard Wagner): the Italian master, Giuseppe Verdi. We have been featuring all of his operas throughout the year on the Tuesday Night Opera (and that will take us a little into 2014), but a special focus on his genius will be your pleasure—and ours–throughout October. Expect some of the greatest Verdi singers and interpreters of the past as well as the present and lots of delightful surprises along the way. Viva Verdi!

Peter van de Graaff

See the daily playlists featuring Verdi throughout October >>

Grapentine and the Three B*ars

Sherrill Milnes

Sherrill Milnes

…BARITONES, that is.

Giuseppe Verdi came on like Vesuvius, leveling tired formulas beneath a new soundscape; forever altering the vocal profession. By the close of Verdi’s incredible fifty-three-year output, singers were born to be specialists; with the quality of the voice (in addition to register) dictating repertoire.

On Tuesday morning (9:00 AM), Carl Grapentine brings you three legendary baritones

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Verdi and Free Speech (not)

giuseppeverdi101_v-contentgross

Verdi was a dissident and everyone knew it. He, like many Italians, resented foreign claims on the Italian peninsula. Verdi himself was born in a region controlled by the French crown; even Milan, home to the celebrated opera house La Scala was under French rule

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Flashback: Marian Anderson Steps into History

Marian_Anderson

On January 7, 1955 a glass ceiling shattered when Marian Anderson became the first African American singer to perform with the Metropolitan Opera. The famous American contralto sang “Ulrica,” the fortune teller in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. Less than a year later, Anderson sang on the recording

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Un ballo in maschera – Libretto

conductor Dmitri Mitropoulos

conductor Dmitri Mitropoulos

The Tuesday Night Opera presents Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (8:00 PM). Verdi was fascinated by the assassination of the Swedish king Gustavus III. Around that account he spun a tale of lust, betrayal, and tragedy. Download the libretto here and tune in to WFMT at 8:00 PM on Tuesday. The broadcast features Dmitri more…

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Questions about Verdi by Bill McGlaughlin

Bill McGlaughlin

Bill McGlaughlin

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, we posed seven questions about the composer to various people (for Bill McGlaughlin, it was actually nine questions). Having differing opinions about the composer, we hope, will add dimension to one’s understanding of the Italian master

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Seven Questions about Verdi

Carl Grapentine, host

[by Carl Grapentine] In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, we posed seven questions about the composer to various people. The differing opinions seem to add more dimension to one’s understanding of the composer’s art, not less

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Riccardo Muti: It’s about Terror, But…

Tatiana Serjan, Luca Salsi and Riccardo Muti, photo by Todd Rosenberg

Tatiana Serjan, Luca Salsi and Riccardo Muti, photo by Todd Rosenberg

A week ago, Tatiana Serjan was dripping in decadence and depravity as Riccardo Muti’s Lady Macbeth, in the concert version of Verdi’s opera with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This week, she’s had to recast herself with an entirely different dramatic intention. Where Verdi had indicated that Lady Macbeth be “rough, harsh, and gloomy

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Questions about Verdi

"Arias and Songs" host Larry Johnson

"Arias and Songs" host Larry Johnson

“Arias and Songs” host Larry Johnson offers his take on Verdi: In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, we posed a set of questions about the composer to various people. Opinions differ

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Verdi in Pictures

giuseppeverdi101_v-contentgross

Verdi honored in the Italian currency

Giuseppe Verdi was born in 1813, and lived all the way to 1901. His success as a composer, and cultural icon, as well as a political icon is well documented by photographers, newspaper illustrators and artists of his time.

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What did Liszt have to Say About Verdi?

Virtuoso pianist, Valentina Lisitsa

Virtuoso pianist, Valentina Lisitsa

[New Release of the Week] How does a titanic musician like Franz Liszt pay homage to another composer? Through his fingers, naturally. Another formidable pianist, one from our own time has a new CD of Liszt’s music. Yes, WFMT is hitting Verdi hard this week, but this CD is no exception: the music of Verdi thunders forth in this new release by Valentina Lisitsa

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Muti’s Soloist: What It’s Like

Ildar Abdrazakov

Ildar Abdrazakov

Russian Bass Ildar Abdrazakov will be spending Verdi’s 200th with the most sought-after Verdi conductor of our time. It wont be in Parma or in Milan, but in Chicago. That conductor, for anyone who’s been hibernating for the last four years, is Riccardo Muti. Abdrazakov considers himself the luckiest bass baritone in the world

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Did You Miss Bill?

Exploring Music host, Bill McGlaughlin

Exploring Music host, Bill McGlaughlin

Two Weeks of Verdi, 7:00 PM After more than ten years of creating topic-based shows for Exploring Music, we have embarked upon the subject of Giuseppe Verdi. If the absence of this composer serves as any indication, Verdi is a daunting topic. He wrote 28 operas, plus the Requiem, a Quartet, and other works. It’s more…

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Simon Boccanegra on Tuesday Night

Thomas Hampson

Thomas Hampson

(8:00 PM) Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra is based on an historical figure, the first doge of Genoa. In Chicago, Verdi’s opera was produced just last season at Lyric Opera with Thomas Hampson singing the title character. Listen to Thomas Hampson speaking about his character

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Seven Questions about Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi

Q. and A. with Henry Fogel – In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, we are posing seven questions about the composer to various people. That opinions differ isn’t surprising, but they do add dimension to one’s understanding of the composer’s art, and of his impact.

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Sumptuous and Sexy: Lyric Opens with “Otello”

Ana Maria Martinez as Desdemona, photo by Dan Rest

Verdi’s 200th birthday is upon us; and Lyric Opera of Chicago pays homage with one of the reigning Verdi tenors, Johan Botha, singing the title role of Otello. Ana María MartÍnez is the unlucky Desdemona, whose demise is collateral damage to the machinations of Falk Struckmann’s Iago. This is a powerful trio; one that will no doubt sharpen the sting of Shakespeare’s tragedy.

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Verdi, What’s with the Ballets?

Sicilian Vespers by Francesco Hayez

Sicilian Vespers by Francesco Hayez

Certain composers jeté to the fore when it comes to ballet, Verdi and Wagner don’t. What they wrote for dance can almost seem an afterthought when unconvincingly wedged into an opera. Some conductors cut the ballet music

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The Battle Rages On: Verdi vs Wagner

Clash of the Titans: Wagner vs. Verdi

Riccardo Muti likes to borrow from Toscanini. The legendary Italian maestro apparently once explained that in Wagner, it takes twenty minutes to get introductions out of the way. In Verdi, the man and the woman would have already made two children

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Is it Scary to Sing for Muti?

Riccardo Muti rehearsing the Chicago Symphony Chorus, photo by Todd Rosenberg

Riccardo Muti rehearsing the Chicago Symphony Chorus, photo by Todd Rosenberg

For Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth, which opens this weekend at Symphony Center, nearly three hundred people will come together under his baton; a chorus, an orchestra, and soloists who’ve collectively logged lifetimes in the practice room. One chorister admits, “When Muti comes out for that first rehearsal, it’s terrifying—but it’s amazing. He’s incredible.” For the wide-eyed alertness that his presence commands

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