Italy’s operatic sensation, at times, could be just like the operas he penned: a character of enormous dramatic contrasts.

Lived1813-1901
Mostly inMilan
Best known for Nabucco, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Macbeth, La Forza del Destino, Aida, Otello, Falstaff, Requiem
Similar to Donizetti, Ponchielli, Mercadante


For a period of 50 years in the 19th century, Giuseppe Verdi dominated the world of Italian opera. His first great opera, Nabucco, made him a national figure when it was unveiled at La Scala in Milan in 1842. At the same venue in 1893, his final masterpiece, Falstaff, showed him still a force to be reckoned with when a group of composers two generations younger than himself was beginning to make its mark. From an international perspective, by this point Verdi represented not merely Italian opera, but virtually Italy itself.

Part of his dominance can be ascribed to good timing. When he composed his very first opera, Oberto, in 1839, Bellini was dead, Rossini had retired from operatic composition, and Donizetti, his eyes largely on Paris and Vienna, had less than a decade to live. Within Italy itself, lesser figures such as Saverio Mercadante and Giovanni Pacini...