The Secret of Verdi’s ‘Otello’ and ‘Falstaff’? His Publisher

Sep 11, 2019 180

BY: Zachary Woolfe

The pair of operatic masterpieces that capped Verdi’s career almost didn’t happen. His “Aida” had its premiere in December 1871, and the great composer, then just 58, wondered what to do next. One thing was certain: He didn’t have much appetite to return to the opera house, as he discovered when he involved himself in some stagings of his work.

“Peace,” he wrote to a friend as the end of the following year approached, “it’s the best thing in this world, and it’s what I desire most at this moment. What devil ever put it into my head to get involved in theatrical matters again!” Verdi would stay largely uninvolved for years. He would not have another premiere until 1887, when “Otello” — perhaps the greatest opera in the Italian tradition — opened at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, followed by another Shakespeare adaptation, the wise and witty “Falstaff,” in 1893. 

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