Verdi: the World’s greatest opera composer?

25 October 2019
Two men converse dark background, one man holds a gun.

Friday 25 October marks the first ever World Opera Day and what better way to commemorate the day than to explore the works of one of the genres most eminent composers, Giuseppe Verdi.

More than a century after his death and his works form a major part of the operatic repertoire; La traviata, Rigoletto and Aida among his most performed operas, accumulating 300 to 400 performances a year worldwide.

Verdi's works are deeply woven into WNO's history, the first of his works entering our repertoire in 1948 with a production of La traviata, directed by Norman Jones and featuring Laura Larne as the enchanting temptress Violetta.

Our Spring 2018 Season marked the beginning of something special for the Company – a brand new Verdi Trilogy: a Trilogy to re-discover and re-create some of Verdi’s lesser known, yet adored works, in partnership with Theater Bonn.

Preziosilla sits, surrounded by pink smoke, right arm raised in the air.

The first part of the Trilogy saw a new production of La forza del destino, Verdi’s ‘opera of ideas’. While the opera didn’t receive the warmest of reception after its premiere in Bolshoi in 1862, Sir David Pountney’s production, with WNO Conductor Laureate Carlo Rizzi at the helm, proved a success with four and five star reviews. Re-live the hustle and bustle of the opera and its instantly familiar Overture here.

Group dressed in skeleton costumes and face paint form a three wide line.

The creative team reunited in our Spring 2019 Season to bring you Un ballo in maschera,  the tale of the theatre loving King Gustav III who was shot during a masked ball at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. The sophisticated score triumphed following its premiere in Rome in 1859 and David Pountney’s production imitated that success, again receiving glowing four and five star reviews from the public and press alike.

A young woman is dressed in a wedding gown, with the silhouette of a cathedral in the background.

Our Spring 2020 Season sees the third and final part of our Verdi Trilogy, Les vêpres siciliennes, a story based around the true events which occurred in Sicily in 1282. By the time this opera premiered in Paris in 1855, Verdi had received international acclaim. David Pountney’s production will see Anush Hovhannisyan return to the Company as Hélène and Jung Soo Yun making his Company debut as Henri. Join us at Wales Millennium Centre on 26 January for an exclusive insight into the production. 

With such a rich and varied catalogue of 28 operas – several of which exist in more than one version – about a dozen form the backbone of the standard operatic repertoire. To celebrate World Opera Day, we asked our General Director Aidan Lang to name his top five Verdi operas, one of which features in our Autumn 2019 Season, currently on tour. 

In a bid not to upset any Verdi fans, we allowed Aidan Lang to add an extra two operas to his ‘top five’ – one of them is today considered as one of his most intimate and personal creations, which formed a part of our Autumn 2018 Season, La traviata.

Just as much as sport shapes a healthy body, the arts shape a healthy mind. We invite you all to enjoy opera's universal stories of love and loss with us.

Verdi’s ‘greatest’ opera, with an American twist, returned to WNO’s main stage this Season, with Mark S Doss in the title role. Not able to join us this Season? Enjoy the last instalment of our Verdi Trilogy, Les vepres Siciliennes, during our Spring 2020 Season, touring to Cardiff, Llandudno, Bristol, Southampton, Milton Keynes, Plymouth and Birmingham.