The Life and Operas of Verdi : The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Robert Greenberg
  • Series: The Great Courses: Fine Arts & Music
  • 24 hrs and 21 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The Italians have a word for the sense of dazzling beauty produced by effortless mastery: sprezzatura. And perhaps no cultural form associated with Italy is as steeped in the love of sprezzatura as opera, a genre the Italians invented. No composer has embodied the ideal of sprezzatura as magnificently as Giuseppe Verdi, the gruff, self-described "farmer" from the Po Valley who gave us 28 operas and remains to this day the most popular composer in the genre's 400-year-old history. His operas are produced more than those of any other composer, and one source claims that his La Traviata (1853) has been staged live somewhere around the world every evening for the past 100 years!
This series of 32 lectures from one of music's most acclaimed teachers combines biography with a variety of musical excerpts to reveal the treasures of creativity that account for this popularity. It explores in depth and detail both the famous and not-so-famous Verdi operas, as well as his one great concert work, the Requiem Mass of 1874; his early songs; and his very last composition, a setting of the Stabat Mater. You trace his development from a more or less conventional composer of operas in the traditional Italian bel canto (beautifully sung) style to a creator of truly innovative musical dramas in which the power of music to intensify and explore human emotion is exploited to the fullest degree.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Comprehensive picture of music and society

Would you listen to The Life and Operas of Verdi again? Why?

Yes, I discover new enjoyable moments every time I listen to


Who was your favorite character and why?

Giuseppina Strapponi, a supporting wife


Have you listened to any of Professor Robert Greenberg’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Yes, for me as an enthusiastic but amateur listener this book helps to understand dimensions I did not access before


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. You have to return to it from time to time. But this is worth to do it.


Any additional comments?

I can only recommend it to everybody.

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- Zuzana

First class lecture series from Robert Greenberg

What did you like best about this story?

Verdi was quite the character and this series of lectures is an excellent introduction to both the significant experiences of his life, his professional relationships, and the development of his music.


Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Professor Greenberg wants us to get a sense of Verdi's personality and characteristics as a window to his music and his passion and sincerity lend colour and verve to these lectures. Dry this material is not!


Any additional comments?

Professor Greenburg's soapbox moments are a real highlight. Agree or disagree there's something about a passionate opinion, eloquently expressed, which captures the attention and rewards the listener. Bravo!

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- Gareth Newton-Williams

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-07-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses