1813 - 1883
Italian opera composer Guiseppe Verdi was born on October 10th 1813 near the town of Busseto. Along with Richard Wagner, Verdi is considered one of the most important composers in nineteenth century opera – he was the most eminent composer in Italian opera after the eras of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini. He is most respected for his revolutionary approaches to the genre, always making the drama the priority and ensuring the music was there to support the drama, rather than the music taking priority. This was particularly revolutionary and with works such as Macbeth, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata, Verdi set new standards for some of the subjects that were and could be addressed upon the opera stage, including murder, infanticide, incest and more political concepts. His works were often particularly difficult for the censors at the time, who would often request aspects of his operas be changed for being to revolutionary, as they feared such ideas may inspire, or encourage, an uprising. Over the course of his life, Verdi had two wives. His first wife, Margherita Barezzi, he married on May 4th 1836. They had two children together both of whom died very young and then, not much later, Margherita passed away as well on June 18th 1840, merely 26 years of age. Verdi was unquestioningly devastated by this and it had a particularly negative on the opera he was writing at the time. A comedy, Un giorno di regno was a total flop and caused Verdi to fall into despair vowing never to compose again. He obviously decided against this and returned to composition and eventual infamy. In the mid-1840s, after Barezzi’s death Verdi began a relationship with soprano Giuseppina Stepponi who he eventually married on August 29th 1859 after controversially cohabiting for a number of years.