Verdi’s Masterwork: Opera and the Birth of Modern Italy

Sep 24, 2013 807

In the early 19th Century, Italy was essentially a "geographical expression," a patchwork of principalities spread across islands and peninsulas, dominated by foreign powers. By century's end it had united as the independent Kingdom of Italy, its people citizens of a modern nation with an emerging common culture and language. The great Giuseppe Verdi became the leading artist of this resurgent movement, the "Risorgimento." In his operatic masterworks he brought to the stage the values and issues of the reunification, giving vivid creative expression to the ideals of his time.

His stirring and melodious music provided a common bond for peoples divided by political boundaries, customs, and dialects. Verdi's life—his humble beginnings, his professional triumphs and family tragedies, his moral integrity, his patriotic yearnings—symbolized an emerging nation's vital spirit. Verdi's life and art were transformed by the Risorgimento and in turn helped to transform it.

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