Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

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01Enough Work to Fell an Ox...20150223

01Enough Work to Fell an Ox...20150223

How Verdi rushed to complete his first work for the Paris Opera: the Sicilian Vespers.

01Enough Work to Fell an Ox...20150223

How Verdi rushed to complete his first work for the Paris Opera: the Sicilian Vespers.

01Enough Work to Fell an Ox...20150223

01Enough Work to Fell an Ox...20150223

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". In 1853 Verdi was on the crest of a wave of immense popularity. He had been working unmercifully hard and had completed what became known in Italy as his "popular trilogy", Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata. Not that La Traviata had been an instant success with audiences - that didn't happen until it was revived a year later. Verdi was in Paris by then though, behind schedule and slogging away to catch up on his next work: the Sicilian Vespers, which he composed for the Paris Opera - his first experience of dealing with the management of what he called "La Grande Boutique."

Il Trovatore, Act 2 (The Anvil Chorus)

Orchestra and Chorus del Maggio Musicale Florence

Zubin Mehta, Conductor

La Traviata, Act 1 (Libiamo ne lieti calici)

Giuseppe Di Stefano, tenor

Maria Callas, soprano (Violetta)

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala

Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor

Les Vepres Siciliennes (Overture)

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Les Vepres Siciliennes (Palerme! O mon pays! Pays tant regrette)

Ayhan Baran, bass (Jean Procida)

BBC Concert Orchestra and Chorus

Mario Rossi (Conductor)

Les Vepres Siciliennes, Act III, S2 (Les Quatre Saisons - Spring, Summer)

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

James Levine, Conductor

I Vespri Siciliani, Act IV (O sdegni, tacete! / Arrigo! Ah, parli a un core)

Cheryl Studer, soprano (Elena)

Chris Merritt, Tenor (Arrigo)

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro della Scala

Riccardo Muti (Conductor).

01Enough Work to Fell an Ox...20150223

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". In 1853 Verdi was on the crest of a wave of immense popularity. He had been working unmercifully hard and had completed what became known in Italy as his "popular trilogy", Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata. Not that La Traviata had been an instant success with audiences - that didn't happen until it was revived a year later. Verdi was in Paris by then though, behind schedule and slogging away to catch up on his next work: the Sicilian Vespers, which he composed for the Paris Opera - his first experience of dealing with the management of what he called "La Grande Boutique."

Il Trovatore, Act 2 (The Anvil Chorus)

Orchestra and Chorus del Maggio Musicale Florence

Zubin Mehta, Conductor

La Traviata, Act 1 (Libiamo ne lieti calici)

Giuseppe Di Stefano, tenor

Maria Callas, soprano (Violetta)

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala

Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor

Les Vepres Siciliennes (Overture)

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Les Vepres Siciliennes (Palerme! O mon pays! Pays tant regrette)

Ayhan Baran, bass (Jean Procida)

BBC Concert Orchestra and Chorus

Mario Rossi (Conductor)

Les Vepres Siciliennes, Act III, S2 (Les Quatre Saisons - Spring, Summer)

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

James Levine, Conductor

I Vespri Siciliani, Act IV (O sdegni, tacete! / Arrigo! Ah, parli a un core)

Cheryl Studer, soprano (Elena)

Chris Merritt, Tenor (Arrigo)

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro della Scala

Riccardo Muti (Conductor).

01Oberto, Rigoletto20100719

Donald Macleod explores the operas of Verdi, starting with Oberto and Rigoletto

As part of the BBC's focus on opera in 2010, Donald Macleod explores the operas of Verdi, beginning at the beginning with his very first operatic effort, Oberto, and contrasting it with a mature masterpiece, Rigoletto.

Both are tales of honour, family and doomed love - all classic Verdi themes.

The excerpt from Rigoletto includes one of the most famous tunes in all opera - 'La donna e mobile'.

Composer: Verdi

Title: Oberto, Act 1 - 'De tuo favor soccorrimi'

Performers: Rolando Panerai (Oberto), Ghena Dimitrova (Leonora), Munich Radio Orchestra, Lamberto Gardelli (Conductor)

Label: Orfeo C 105 842 H

Track: 1:4

Duration: 7:7

Title: Oberto, Act 2 - 'La vergogna ed il dispetto'

Performers: Carlo Bergonzi (Riccardo), Rolando Panerai (Oberto), Ghena Dimitrova (Leonora),

Ruza Baldani (Cuniza), Munich Radio Orchestra, Lamberto Gardelli (Conductor)

Track: 2:4

Duration: 9:27

Title: Rigoletto, Act 3 (complete)

Performers: Piero Cappuccilli (Rigoletto), Ileana Cotrubas (Gilda), Placido Domingo (Duke),

Nicolai Ghiaurov (Sparafucile), Elena Obraztsova (Maddalena), Philharmonia Chorus,

Vienna Philharmonic, Carlo Maria Giulini (Conductor)

Label: DG 457 753-2

Track: 2:11 to 20

Duration: 32:36.

01The Barezzi Family2006051520080218

Antonio Barezzi, a distiller and grocer, sponsored Verdi as a child. Later on, Barezzi's daughter Margherita, also a keen supporter of Verdi's ambitions, became the composer's first wife.

Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate (Nabucco)

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Sinfonia in C

Symphony Orchestra of Milan

Riccardo Chailly (conductor)

Leonore's Cavatina (Act 1, Oberto)

Ghena Dimitrova (soprano)

Munich Radio Orchestra

Lamberto Gardelli (conductor)

Quartet (Act 2, Oberto)

Ruza Baldani (mezzo-soprano)

Carlo Bergonzi (tenor)

Rolando Panerai (baritone)

The Prophecy (Act 3, Nabucco)

Piero Cappuccilli (baritone)

Kurt Rydl (bass)

Chorus and orchestra of Deutschen Oper Berlin

Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor)

Donald Macleod looks at some of the personalities who were instrumental in helping Verdi achieve success, beginning with Antonio Barezzi, a distiller and grocer who sponsored Verdi as a child. Later on, Barezzi's daughter Margherita, also a keen supporter of Verdi's ambitions, became the composer's first wife.

Leonores Cavatina, Act 1, Oberto

Quartet, Act 2, Oberto

The Prophecy, Act 3, Nabucco

Donald Macleod looks at some of the personalities who were instrumental in helping Verdi achieve success, beginning with Antonio Barezzi, a distiller and grocer who sponsored Verdi as a child.

Later on, Barezzi's daughter Margherita, also a keen supporter of Verdi's ambitions, became the composer's first wife.

01Turning Points20120402

Donald Macleod explores three operas that formed turning points in Verdi's career.

Giuseppe Verdi was a leading figure in 19th century Italian opera. But his impact on the cultural and political landscape of the country went much deeper. This week Donald Macleod investigates how Verdi achieved an iconic status which still holds good to this day, beginning with three operas which formed turning points in his career - the first established his international reputation, the second broke new ground with an operatic adaptation of Shakespeare's Scottish play, and finally, the work which, alongside Rigoletto and Il trovatore, represents a high water mark in Italian operatic history.

02A Rickety Table...20150224

02A Rickety Table...20150224

How, after the ordeal of the Sicilian Vespers, Verdi focused on Simon Boccanegra.

02A Rickety Table...20150224

How, after the ordeal of the Sicilian Vespers, Verdi focused on Simon Boccanegra.

02A Rickety Table...20150224

02A Rickety Table...20150224

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". In Paris, exhausted by the crushing work on The Sicilian Vespers, Verdi had felt so overwhelmed that he said he felt he would never compose anything ever again. Once he got back to his home at Sant'Agata, now, at long last, actually married to his long-term partner Giuseppina Strepponi, he said he couldn't so much as read or write, but could only walk round the fields from morning till evening trying to cure the stomach trouble which was his legacy from the Vespers, fuming aloud: "Damned, damned operas!" After the Parisian ordeal, Giuseppina urged him to focus on what he liked: "In your position... I should look for a libretto I liked, and set it to music without any engagement and in my own time." It emerged that what Verdi liked, revealed in a throw-away line to the librettist Francesco Maria Piave, was the bleak story of the Doge of Genoa: Simon Boccanegra.

I Vespri Siciliani, Act 5 (Merce, dilette amiche)

Martina Arroyo, Soprano (Elena)

John Alldis Choir

New Philharmonia Orchestra

James Levine, Conductor

Simon Boccanegra, Prologue (Che dicesti? / L'altra magion vedete? / A te l'estremo addio... Il lacerato spirito)

Piero Cappuccilli, Baritone (Simon)

Nicolai Ghiaurov, Bass (Fiesco)

Jose van Dam, Baritone (Paolo)

Pietro Giovanni Foiani, Bass)

Chorus and Orchestra of Teatr alla Scala

Claudio Abbado, Conductor

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1, Sc 1 (Come in Quest'ora bruna)

Miriam Gauci, Soprano (Amelia)

BRTN Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels

Alexander Rahbarim, Conductor

Cielo di stelle orbato... & Vieni a mirar la cerula

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1, Sc 2

Berlin Philharmonic / Claudio Abaddo

Angela Gheorghiu / Roberto Alagna

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1 Sc 2

Kiri Te Kanawa, Soprano (Amelia)

Leo Nucci, Baritone (Simon)

Giacomo Aragall, Tenor (Gabriele).

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala

Georg Solti, Conductor.

02A Rickety Table...20150224

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". In Paris, exhausted by the crushing work on The Sicilian Vespers, Verdi had felt so overwhelmed that he said he felt he would never compose anything ever again. Once he got back to his home at Sant'Agata, now, at long last, actually married to his long-term partner Giuseppina Strepponi, he said he couldn't so much as read or write, but could only walk round the fields from morning till evening trying to cure the stomach trouble which was his legacy from the Vespers, fuming aloud: "Damned, damned operas!" After the Parisian ordeal, Giuseppina urged him to focus on what he liked: "In your position... I should look for a libretto I liked, and set it to music without any engagement and in my own time." It emerged that what Verdi liked, revealed in a throw-away line to the librettist Francesco Maria Piave, was the bleak story of the Doge of Genoa: Simon Boccanegra.

I Vespri Siciliani, Act 5 (Merce, dilette amiche)

Martina Arroyo, Soprano (Elena)

John Alldis Choir

New Philharmonia Orchestra

James Levine, Conductor

Simon Boccanegra, Prologue (Che dicesti? / L'altra magion vedete? / A te l'estremo addio... Il lacerato spirito)

Piero Cappuccilli, Baritone (Simon)

Nicolai Ghiaurov, Bass (Fiesco)

Jose van Dam, Baritone (Paolo)

Pietro Giovanni Foiani, Bass)

Chorus and Orchestra of Teatr alla Scala

Claudio Abbado, Conductor

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1, Sc 1 (Come in Quest'ora bruna)

Miriam Gauci, Soprano (Amelia)

BRTN Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels

Alexander Rahbarim, Conductor

Cielo di stelle orbato... & Vieni a mirar la cerula

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1, Sc 2

Berlin Philharmonic / Claudio Abaddo

Angela Gheorghiu / Roberto Alagna

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1 Sc 2

Kiri Te Kanawa, Soprano (Amelia)

Leo Nucci, Baritone (Simon)

Giacomo Aragall, Tenor (Gabriele).

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala

Georg Solti, Conductor.

02Giuseppina Strepponi2006051620080219

The opera singer Giuseppina Strepponi was one of Verdi's most loyal supporters.

Despite the difficulties her tarnished reputation caused the couple, their relationship endured for half a century.

Verdi relied on her steady emotional support, advice over singers and her ability to deal with all his professional matters including tactfully negotiating disputes with colleagues and friends.

Oh belle, a questa misera (Act 2, I Lombardi)

Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)

Roberto Alagna (tenor)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Surta e la notte...Ernani! Ernani, involami (Ernani, Act 1)

Leontyne Price (soprano)

RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra

Thomas Schippers (conductor)

Ben io t'invenni...Anch'io dischiuso un giorno (Nabucco Act 2)

Ghena Dimitrova (soprano)

Orchestra of Deutsche Oper, Berlin

Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor)

La Traviata (Act 1)

Joan Sutherland (soprano)

Carlo Bergonzi (tenor)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

John Pritchard (conductor)

Donald Macleod looks at Verdi's relationship with the opera singer Giuseppina Strepponi - one of his most loyal supporters. Despite the difficulties her tarnished reputation caused the couple, their relationship endured for half a century. Verdi relied on her steady emotional support, advice over singers and her ability to deal with all his professional matters including tactfully negotiating disputes with colleagues and friends.

Oh belle, a questa misera, Act 2, I Lombardi

Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)

Roberto Alagna (tenor)

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Surta è la notte. Ernani! Ernani, involami, Ernani, Act 1

Leontyne Price (soprano)

RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra

Thomas Schippers (conductor)

Ben io tinvenni. Anchiio dischiuso un giorno, Nabucco Act 2

Ghena Dimitrova (soprano)

Orchestra of Deutschen Oper Berlin

Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor)

La traviata, Act 1

Joan Sutherland (soprano)

Carlo Bergonzi (tenor)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

John Pritchard (conductor).

Donald Macleod looks at Verdi's relationship with the opera singer Giuseppina Strepponi - one of his most loyal supporters. Despite the difficulties her tarnished reputation caused the couple, their relationship endured for half a century. Verdi relied on her steady emotional support, advice over singers and her ability to deal with all his professional matters - including tactfully negotiating disputes with colleagues and friends.

Oh belle, a questa misera, Act 2, I Lombardi

Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)

Roberto Alagna (tenor)

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Surta è la notte. Ernani! Ernani, involami, Ernani, Act 1

Leontyne Price (soprano)

RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra

Thomas Schippers (conductor)

Ben io tinvenni. Anchiio dischiuso un giorno, Nabucco Act 2

Ghena Dimitrova (soprano)

Orchestra of Deutschen Oper Berlin

Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor)

La traviata, Act 1

Joan Sutherland (soprano)

Carlo Bergonzi (tenor)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

John Pritchard (conductor)

Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)

2/5. Giuseppina Strepponi

Donald Macleod looks at Verdi's relationship with the opera singer Giuseppina Strepponi - one of his most loyal supporters. Despite the difficulties her tarnished reputation caused the couple, their relationship endured for half a century. Verdi relied on her steady emotional support, advice over singers and her ability to deal with all his professional matters - including tactfully negotiating disputes with colleagues and friends.

Oh belle, a questa misera, Act 2, I Lombardi

Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)

Roberto Alagna (tenor)

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Surta è la notte. Ernani! Ernani, involami, Ernani, Act 1

Leontyne Price (soprano)

RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra

Thomas Schippers (conductor)

Ben io tinvenni. Anchiio dischiuso un giorno, Nabucco Act 2

Ghena Dimitrova (soprano)

Orchestra of Deutschen Oper Berlin

Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor)

La traviata, Act 1

Joan Sutherland (soprano)

Carlo Bergonzi (tenor)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

John Pritchard (conductor)

02Viva Verdi!20120403

Donald Macleod investigates the role of Verdi's operas in Italy's fight for independence.

Donald Macleod investigates the challenges facing Verdi, while Italy was under Austrian rule, as he tried to cope with the strict censorship applied to operas such as Rigoletto and Un ballo in maschera, and the role played by Nabucco and La battaglia di Legnano in the movement for the unification of Italy. In the turbulent years of the 19th century, when Italy was struggling to gain independence from its Austrian rulers, Verdi's patriotic choruses seemed to embody the spirit of the movement for the unification of Italy, and an entire mythology has grown up around Verdi as hero of the Risorgimento. Donald Macleod investigates the role Verdi's music was thought to have played in Italy's fight for freedom, and the challenges he faced in his own battle with the Austrian censors.

03Francesco Maria Piave2006051720080220

The librettist Francesco Maria Piave worked with Verdi for more than 20 years, and together they were responsible for some of Verdi's biggest hits and also some of his more memorable flops.

Verdi regarded Piave as a good friend, but that did not stop him from accusing Piave of being long winded, criticising him and, in the case of Macbeth, sending the work straight to another writer and translator, Andrea Maffei, for further work.

Stornello

Margaret Price (soprano)

Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

Mio padre...Dio Mia Gilda...Si vendetta, tremenda vendetta (Rigoletto, Act 2)

Renato Bruson (baritone)

Andrea Rost (soprano)

Ernesto Gavazzi (tenor)

Silvestro Sammaritano, Antonio de Gobbi (bass)

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Riccardo Muti (conductor)

Vegliammo invan due notti...Ella e morta! (Macbeth, Act 4)

Shirley Verrett (soprano)

Piero Cappuccilli (baritone)

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Overture (La forza del destino)

Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

The librettist with whom Verdi worked for more than 20 years was Francesco Maria Piave.

Together, they were responsible for some of Verdi's biggest hits and also some of his more memorable flops.

Verdi regarded Piave as a good friend, but that didn't stop him from accusing him of being long winded, criticising him and - in the case of Macbeth - sending it straight round to another writer and translator, Andrea Maffei, for further work.

To Verdi's credit, he helped to support Piave's family after the librettist suffered a stroke and paid for his funeral nine years later.

Stornello

Margaret Price (soprano)

Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

Rigoletto, excerpt from Act 2

Mio padre, Dio Mia Gilda, Si vendetta, tremenda vendetta

Renato Bruson (baritone)

Andrea Rost (soprano)

Ernesto Gavazzi (tenor)

Silvestro Sammaritano, Antonio de Gobbi (bass)

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Riccardo Muti (conductor)

Vegliammo invan due notti, Ella è morta! Act IV, Macbeth

Shirley Verrett (soprano)

Piero Cappuccilli (baritone)

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Overture to la forza del destino

Orchestra of La Scala

03Giovanna D'arco, I Masnadieri, Luisa Miller20100721

Friedrich Schiller is perhaps most widely known today as the poet of the 'Ode to Joy', famously set to music in the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Verdi encountered his work through the glittering Milanese salon of Countess Clarina Maffei, whose husband Count Andrea had embarked on the task of translating Schiller's plays into Italian.

Schiller became a favourite of Verdi's - second only to Shakespeare in his estimation - and the composer was to base four operas on his plays.

Here, Donald Macleod considers three of them, written in fairly swift succession in the late 1840s - Giovanna d'Arco, I Masnadieri, and lastly Luisa Miller, which marks the transition to Verdi's mature style.

Producer: Chris Barstow

Composer: Verdi

Title: Giovanna d'Arco, Act 3 scenes 3-6 (conclusion)

Performers: Placido Domingo (Carlo VII - tenor), Sherrill Milnes (Giacomo - baritone), Montserrat Caballe (Giovanna - soprano), Keith Erwen (Delil - tenor), Ambrosian Opera Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, James Levine (Conductor)

Label: EMI 7 63226 2

Track: 2: 11 to 15

Duration: 15:24

Title: I Masnadieri, Act 2 scenes 1-3 - 'Dall'infame bancheto io m'involai...'

Performers: Montserrat Caballe (Amalia), John Sandor (Arminio), Piero Cappuccilli (Francesco), Ambrosian Singers, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Lamberto Gardelli (Conductor)

Label: Philips 422 423-2

Track: 1: 16 to 21

Duration: 20:43

Title: Luisa Miller, Act 2 scene 2 - 'Egli delira; sul mattin degli anni...'

Performers: Gwynne Howell (Count Walter), Vladimiro Ganzarolli (Wurm), Elena Obraztsova (Federica), Katia Ricciarelli (Luisa), Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Lorin Maazel (Conductor)

Label: DG 423 144-2

Track: CD 2 tracks 1-4

Duration: 13:50.

Donald Macleod explores Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco, I Masnadieri and Luisa Miller.

03Paris20120404

Donald Macleod explores Verdi's two grand operas written expressly for Paris.

Donald Macleod looks at the pros and cons of writing grand opera for Paris with its tradition of lengthy ballet interludes, spectacular sets and lavish costumes, and plays highlights from Verdi's two grand operas written expressly for Paris, which took full advantage of the extravagant resources at his disposal.

03The Gentleman Farmer20150225
03The Gentleman Farmer20150225

Verdi's agreeing to supply a new work for the Paris Opera, based on Schiller's Don Carlos.

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". Verdi often said that he felt he was without honour in his native Italy. Perhaps that's why he accepted another commission abroad. Despite his previous very negative experiences writing for the Paris Opera, it was for the "Grand Boutique" that he agreed to supply a new work. The subject agreed on was Friedrich Schiller's Don Carlos. A German play on a Spanish subject - that makes very free with history - prepared for the opera stage by a pair of Frenchmen, and set to music by an Italian, doesn't sound like a recipe for success, but Verdi created from those ingredients one of the great operatic dramas of all time: Verdi's Don Carlos.

Adagio for Trumpet and Orchestra

Gianluigi Petrarulo (trumpet)

Symphony Orchestra of Milan

Riccardo Chailly (Conductor)

Don Carlos, Act II, Sc 2 (Nel Giardin del bello)

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Swedish Opera

Alberto Hold-Garrido, Conductor

Don Carlos, Act III (Il Grand Inquisitor!/ Nell'ispano suol mai)

Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Robin Leggate, Tenor (Count of Lerma).

Robert Lloyd, Tenor (The Grand Inquisitor)

Roberto Scandiuzzi, Bass (Filippo)

Bernard Haitink, Conductor

Don Carlos, Act III (Ballet of the Queen)

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Don Carlo, Act IV (Tu che le vanita / E dessa... Si, per sempre)

Wiener Phiharmonic

Sena Jurinac, Soprano (Elisabetta)

Eugenio Fernandi, Tenor (Carlo)

Herbert von Karajan, Conductor.

04Aida20120405

Donald Macleod focuses on Aida, one of Verdi's most remarkable operas.

Donald Macleod focusses his attention on one of Verdi's most remarkable operas in which, amongst the spectacular pomp and ceremony, an intimate tragedy unfolds. It's the timeless story of a love affair between a man and his enemy's daughter, both torn between love, patriotism and family loyalty.

04Ambition Fulfilled20150226

Exploring the effect on Verdi of the outbreak in 1870 of the Franco-Prussian war.

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". In July of 1870, Verdi's latest operatic tale of conflict between two nations at war, of love, conquest, military pomp, jealousy and revenge, was overtaken by real-life events with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. Verdi had had his bruising professional experiences with the French but this crisis in her history brought out the Francophile in him: "...the impertinence, the presumption of the French was and is, despite all their misfortunes, insupportable," he wrote to a friend. "Nevertheless, in the last resort, France gave freedom and civilisation to the modern world. And if she falls, don't let us delude ourselves, all our liberties and civilisation will fall with her." By November, Paris was under siege and with it the scenery and costumes of Verdi's grandest of all grand operas: Aida.

Aida, Act 2 (Gloria all'Egitto & Triumphal March)

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

String Quartet

Vogler Quartet

Aida, Act 3 (Pur ti riveggo...La mia rival!)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Rome Opera House

Jon Vickers, Tenor (Radames)

Leontyne Price, Soprano (Aida)

Sir Georg Solti, Conductor

Aida, Act 4, Sc 2 (La fatal pietra... O terra, addio)

Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Trumpeters of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Montserrat Caballe, Soprano (Aida)

Placido Domingo, Tenor (Radames)

Fiorenza Cossotto, Mezzo-soprano (Amonasro)

Riccardo Muti (Conductor).

04Arrigo Boito2006051820080221

Arrigo Boito was the librettist with whom Verdi produced his later operas Otello, Falstaff and a much revised Simon Boccanegra. Verdi greatly admired Boito, a composer in his own right, for his brilliant mind.

Their association had an unfortunate start as Boito insulted Verdi and the novelist Alessandro Manzoni at a banquet by reading out an ode he had written about the decrepit old men who were ruining Italian art. While it was 20 years before they become friends, they remained so until Verdi's death.

Reconciliation scene (Simon Boccanegra, Act 3)

Nikolai Ghiaurov (bass-baritone)

Piero Cappuccilli (baritone)

Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Credo in un dio crudel...se inconscia, contro te, sposo, ho peccato (Otello, Act 2)

Cheryl Studer (soprano)

Placido Domingo (tenor)

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Denyce Graves (mezzo-soprano)

Chorus and Orchestra of Bastille Opera

Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)

Falstaff, Act 1 (excerpt)

Bryn Terfel (baritone)

Anthony Mee (tenor)

Anatoli Kotscherga (bass)

Enrico Facini (tenor)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

The librettist with whom Verdi produced his later operas - Otello, Falstaff and a much revised Simon Boccanegra - was Arrigo Boito. Verdi much admired Boito, a composer in his own right, for his brilliant mind.

Their association had an unfortunate start as Boito insulted Verdi and the novelist Alessandro Manzoni at a banquet by reading out an ode he'd written about the decrepit old men who were ruining Italian art. It was 20 years before they became friends, but then they remained so up until Verdi's death.

Innio delle nazioni (excerpt)

Jan Peerce (tenor)

NBC Symphony Orchestra

Arturo Toscanini (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 3 (Simon Boccanegra)

Reconciliation Scene

Nikolai Ghiaurov (bass baritone)

Piero Cappuccilli (baritone)

Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 2 (Otello)

Credo in un dio crudel....se inconscia, contro te, sposo, ho peccato

Cheryl Studer (soprano)

Placido Domingo (tenor)

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Denyce Graves (mezzo soprano)

Chorus and Orchestra of Bastille Opera

Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 1 (Falstaff)

Bryn Terfel (baritone)

Anthony Mee (tenor)

Anatoli Kotscherga (bass)

Enrico Facini (tenor)

Berlin Philharmonic

Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)

4/5. Arrigo Boito

The librettist with whom Verdi produced his later operas - Otello, Falstaff and a much revised Simon Boccanegra - was Arrigo Boito. Verdi much admired Boito, a composer in his own right, for his brilliant mind.

Their association had an unfortunate start as Boito insulted Verdi and the novelist Alessandro Manzoni at a banquet by reading out an ode he'd written about the decrepit old men who were ruining Italian art. It was 20 years before they became friends, but then they remained so until Verdi's death.

Innio delle nazioni (excerpt)

Jan Peerce (tenor)

NBC Symphony Orchestra

Arturo Toscanini (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 3 (Simon Boccanegra)

Reconciliation Scene

Nikolai Ghiaurov (bass baritone)

Piero Cappuccilli (baritone)

Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Claudio Abbado (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 2 (Otello)

Credo in un dio crudel....se inconscia, contro te, sposo, ho peccato

Cheryl Studer (soprano)

Placido Domingo (tenor)

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Denyce Graves (mezzo soprano)

Chorus and Orchestra of Bastille Opera

Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)

Excerpt from Act 1 (Falstaff)

Bryn Terfel (baritone)

Anthony Mee (tenor)

Anatoli Kotscherga (bass)

Enrico Facini (tenor)

Berlin Philharmonic

04Don Carlos20100722

Donald Macleod continues his exploration of Verdi's operas with Don Carlos, an epic tale of thwarted love that poses epic problems for directors. The historical Don Carlos was a tortured, tragic and misshapen young man in 16th-century Spain. Verdi's grand operatic version of his life, based, not for the first time, on a play by Schiller, turned out to have one of the most tortuous and protracted histories in all opera. As a result there are no fewer than eight possible 'authentic' versions of the score, so for anyone putting on a production of Don Carlos, it's rather a case of Let's Make an Opera!

Producer: Chris Barstow

Composer: Verdi

Title: Don Carlos

Performers: Chorus: Chorus of La Scala, Milan, Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Label: Deutsche Gramophon DG 415 316-2

Track: 1: 1

Duration: 0:22

Title: Don Carlos, extract from Act 1, scene and duo: 'Que faites-vous donc?'

Performers: (Katia Ricciarelli - Elisabeth), (Placido Domingo - Carlos), Orchestra of La Scala, Milan

Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Track: 1: 5

Duration: 8:15

Title: Don Carlos, Act 2, scene 1 - scene and duo: 'C'est l'Infant...'

Performers: (Leo Nucci - Rodrigo), (Placido Domingo - Carlos), Orchestra of La Scala, Milan Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Track: 1: 10

Duration: 7:47

Title: Don Carlos, extract from Act 3, scene 2 (conclusion): 'En plaiant sur mon front... '

Performers: Ruggero Raimondi (Philip), Katia Ricciarelli (Elisabeth), Leo Nucci (Rodrigo), Placido Domingo (Carlos), Ann Murray (Thibault), Arleen Auger (A voice from on high), Aldo Bramante, Serge Fontaine, Bruno Grella, Paolo Mazzotta, Giuseppe Morresi, Silvestro Sammaritano (The Flemish Deputies), Chorus of La Scala, Milan, Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Track: 2: 10

Duration: 10:27

Title: Don Carlos, extract from Act 4, scene 1 - scene: 'Le Grand Inquisiteur!'

Performers: Tibere Raffalli (Le Comte de Lerme), Nicolai Ghiaurov (The Inquisitor), Ruggero Raimondi (Philip), Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Track: 3: 2

Duration: 9:02

Title: Don Carlos, extract from Act 5 - scene and duo of farewell; final scene: 'C'est elle!'

Performers: Placido Domingo (Carlos), Katia Ricciarelli (Elisabeth), Ruggero Raimondi (Philip), Nicolai Ghiaurov (The Inquisitor), Nikita Storojev (A Monk), Chorus of La Scala, Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Track: 4: 2 to 3

Duration: 11:17.

Donald Macleod continues his exploration of the operas of Verdi with Don Carlos.

05So Many Requiem Masses...20150227

05So Many Requiem Masses...20150227

Donald Macleod uncovers the story behind the completion of Verdi's Requiem.

05So Many Requiem Masses...20150227

Donald Macleod uncovers the story behind the completion of Verdi's Requiem.

05So Many Requiem Masses...20150227

05So Many Requiem Masses...20150227

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". The writer and fervent supporter of Italian independence and reunification, Alessandro Manzoni, died in May 1873. Within days Verdi told his publisher Ricordi that he wanted to compose a Requiem, to be performed on the first anniversary of the writer's death. He'd already begun a setting of the Requiem Mass and had shown this beginning to the conductor Alberto Mazzucato, who had been very impressed. His encouraging remarks, Verdi said, "would almost have planted in me the desire to set the Mass in its entirety at some later date... but don't worry, it's a temptation that will pass like many others. There are so many requiem masses; there's no point in adding one more."

Four Sacred Pieces, Ave Maria

Choir of St Hedwig's Cathedral

RIAS Chamber Choir

Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin

Ferenc Fricsay, Conductor

Requiem (Dies Irae, Tuba mirum, Liber scriptus)

Ernst Senff Chorus

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor

Requiem (Offertorio, Sanctus & Agnus Dei)

Semyon Bychkov

WDR Symphony Orchestra

WDR Radio Choir

NDR Choir

Choir of the Royal Theatre, Turin

Semyon Bychkov, Conductor

Requiem (Libera me)

Orchestra and Choir of La Scala

Daniel Barenboim - Conductor

Anja Harteros (soprano)

Elina Garanca (mezzo-soprano)

Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)

Rene Pape (bass)

Fuoco di gioia, from Otello Act 1

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala

Claudio Abbado, Conductor.

05So Many Requiem Masses...20150227

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". The writer and fervent supporter of Italian independence and reunification, Alessandro Manzoni, died in May 1873. Within days Verdi told his publisher Ricordi that he wanted to compose a Requiem, to be performed on the first anniversary of the writer's death. He'd already begun a setting of the Requiem Mass and had shown this beginning to the conductor Alberto Mazzucato, who had been very impressed. His encouraging remarks, Verdi said, "would almost have planted in me the desire to set the Mass in its entirety at some later date... but don't worry, it's a temptation that will pass like many others. There are so many requiem masses; there's no point in adding one more."

Four Sacred Pieces, Ave Maria

Choir of St Hedwig's Cathedral

RIAS Chamber Choir

Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin

Ferenc Fricsay, Conductor

Requiem (Dies Irae, Tuba mirum, Liber scriptus)

Ernst Senff Chorus

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor

Requiem (Offertorio, Sanctus & Agnus Dei)

Semyon Bychkov

WDR Symphony Orchestra

WDR Radio Choir

NDR Choir

Choir of the Royal Theatre, Turin

Semyon Bychkov, Conductor

Requiem (Libera me)

Orchestra and Choir of La Scala

Daniel Barenboim - Conductor

Anja Harteros (soprano)

Elina Garanca (mezzo-soprano)

Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)

Rene Pape (bass)

Fuoco di gioia, from Otello Act 1

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala

Claudio Abbado, Conductor.

05 LASTCasa Ricordi2006051920080222

By his death in 1901, Verdi had achieved great recognition. Internationally acclaimed, feted wherever he went, his long career had by then spanned 60 years. He had amassed a fortune, due in part to the fact that he was a shrewd businessman but also because of the efforts of Casa Ricordi, the publishing house which had, and continued, to tirelessly promote his music.

Piangea cantando nell'erma landa...Ave Maria (Otello, Act 4)

Cheryl Studer (soprano)

Orchestra of Bastille Opera

Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)

Libera me (Messa da Requiem)

Carol Vaness (soprano)

Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra

Colin Davis (conductor)

Je viens solliciter de la Reine...o bien perdu (Don Carlos, Act 2)

Roberto Alagna (tenor)

Karita Mattila (soprano)

Orchestra de Paris

Antonio Pappano (conductor)

Gloria all'Egitto, ad Iside...Vieni, o guerriero vindice (Aida, Act 2)

Arnold Schoenberg Choir

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)

By his death in 1901, Verdi had become a veritable legend in his own lifetime. Internationally acclaimed, feted wherever he went, his long career had by then spanned an incredible 60 years.

He had amassed a fortune, due in part to the fact that he was a shrewd businessman but also because of the efforts of Casa Ricordi, the publishing house which has so tirelessly promoted his music over the years. With Donald Macleod.

Piangea cantando nellerma landa, Ave Maria, Act IV, Otello

Cheryl Studer (soprano)

Orchestra of Bastille Opera

Myung-Whun Chung (conductor)

Libera me, Messa da Requiem

Carol Vaness (soprano)

Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra

Colin Davis (conductor)

Je viens solliciter de la Reine...o bien perdu

Act 2, Don Carlos

Roberto Alagna (tenor)

Karita Mattila (soprano)

Orchestra de Paris

Antonio Pappano (conductor)

Gloria all'Egitto, ad - Iside, Vieni, o guerriero vindice, Aida, Act 2

Arnold Schoenberg Choir

Vienna Philharmonic

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor).

05 LASTMacbeth, Otello, Falstaff20100723

For Verdi, Shakespeare was 'the great poet of the human heart' and the greatest of all playwrights, whom he sometimes referred to simply as 'Papa'.

Donald Macleod concludes his exploration of Verdi's operas with his Shakespearean trio: a groundbreaking early work, Macbeth; and his final two operatic essays, Otello and Falstaff - acknowledged pinnacles of the genre.

All three excerpts show the protagonists losing control in one way or another: Lady Macbeth, in the famous sleepwalking scene, is unable to suppress her murderous guilt; Otello is unable to control his jealously and rage; and Falstaff, tricked into taking cover in a laundry basket, finds himself at the mercy of gravity, as he's unceremoniously tossed out of a window into the River Thames.

Producer: Chris Barstow

Composer: Verdi

Title: Macbeth, Act 2 - Gran scena del sonnambulismo: 'Vegliammo invan due notti'

Performers: Carlo Zardo (Doctor), Stefania Malagu (Lady-in-waiting), Shirley Verrett (Lady Macbeth)

Orchestra del Teatro all Scala, Claudio Abbado (Conductor)

Label: DG 449 732-2

Track: 2: 10 to 11

Duration: 13:09

Title: Otello, extract from opening of Act 3: "La vedetta del porto"

Performers: Philippe Duminy (Herald), Placido Domingo (Otello), Sergei Leiferkus (Iago), Cheryl

Studer (Desdemona), Orchestre de l'Opera Bastille, Myung-Whun Chung (Conductor)

Label: DG 439 805-2

Track: 2: 1 to 6

Duration: 17:25

Title: Falstaff, Act 2, Part 2

Performers : Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Alice Ford), Fedora Barbieri (Mistress Quickly), Nan Merriman

(Meg Page), Anna Moffo (Nannetta), Tito Gobbi (Falstaff), Rolando Panerai (Ford), Renato Ercolani

(Bardolf), Nicola Zaccaria (Pistol), Luigi Alva (Fenton), Tomaso Spataro (Dr Cajus), Philharmonia

Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan (Conductor)

Label: EMI 5 67083 2

Track: 2: 1 to 0

Duration: 19:30.

Donald Macleod explores Verdi's Shakespeare operas - Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff.

05 LASTVerdi And Shakespeare20120406

Donald Macleod introduces highlights from two of Verdi's Shakespearean operas.

After Aida was performed in 1871, there was a gap of sixteen years before Verdi's penultimate opera found its way to the stage. He'd been lured back by the temptation of a new Shakespearean work- Otello. Donald Macleod introduces highlights from the work regarded by many as Verdi's finest tragic opera, and he takes a look at Verdi's final contribution to the stage, based on Shakespeare's comic fictional character - Falstaff.