Early Verdi: Italian Opera

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In his early works, Verdi was known for using canons and fuges and also to have written vocal music, band music and chamber works. In his early opera he uses standard elements of Italian opera content of the period. Amongst the essential elements are the aria, the duet, the ensemble, and the finale sequence of an act.
The aria format, involved three sections, a slow introduction, marked typically cantabile or adagio, known as the cavatina, a tempo di mezzo that might involve chorus or other characters, and a cabaletta, an opportunity for bravura singing. This was known as solita forma. The duets were also following the same format. Finales, covering climaxes, used the various forces of soloists, ensemble and chorus, usually culminating
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Verdi's wish to move away from standard forms and this appears in his feelings about the structure of Il trovatore. To his librettist, Cammarano, Verdi plainly states in a letter that if there were no standard forms, cavatinas, cabaletta, duets, trios, choruses, finales, and and if he could avoid beginning with an opening chorus, he would be quite happy. Source
Two external factors had their impacts on Verdi's compositions of this period. One is that with increasing reputation and financial security he no longer needed to commit himself to the productive treadmill, had more freedom to choose his own subjects, and had more time to develop them according to his own ideas. Source
Another factor was the change in political situation. The Risorgimento and a significant increase in theatre censorship brought a change in the choices of plots. Plots were more about personal relationships than political
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In this period, the operas are significantly longer, and with large cast than previous works. They also reflect a shift towards the French genre of grand opera. Verdi devoted himself to providing works for the Opéra at Paris and other theatres conforming to the Parisian operatic standard, which demanded spectacular dramas on subjects of high seriousness in five acts with a ballet.

Verdi's two last major operas Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893) continued to show new developments in conveying drama and emotion. When Gioachino Rossinii died, he proposed to compose the requiem mass in his honour ( Kerman J. 2016)
As he aged, his works became increasingly unconventional. The division between aria and recitative passages blurred and overall there was a greater continuity in the music. The orchestration became more imaginative, and accompaniments were richer. His final work, the comic Falstaff, presents this with its carefree finale: a fugue declaring 'All the world's a joke” (Kamien, R. 1997)
Verdi's place among the Great Masters, the relative value of his works, the real lasting calibre of operas which are still as popular to-day as when they first leapt into fame.
(Klein H.

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