Verdi's settings of Shakespeare : from play to liberetto to opera

S. Earon


As a Senior Scholar pursuing the topic, Verdi's Settings of Shakespeare: From Play to Libretto to Opera, I have endeavoured to study a project relevant to my majors, Music and English. During first semester, I carefully analysed Shakespeare's plays, Macbeth, Othello and Falstaff. The highlight of my project was in January when I travelled to New York City and spent the day working with the Metropolitan Opera Guild. I was also able to see a performance of Verdi's Othello with Jon Vickers in the lead role. During the second semester, I studied the musical aspects of the compositions. I spent time analysing musical passages and relating them to the plays and the operas. I was also able to continue my study of Italian, which I find extremely beneficial while studying Verdi's libretti. On Monday, 13th May, 1974, I gave a lecture presentation of my project. At this time, I showed slides of Metropolitan productions of the operas, presented my own rendition of five arias (in costume) and talked about comparisions between the plays and the operas. I applied for a Rotary Fellowship to take my project to Europe and am presently waiting to hear the results. If I do receive the fellowship, I am planning to spend a year studying the plays and operas in England and Italy. Afterwards, I hope to publish a paper explaining my findings. The paper is divided into six sections. The first section is an introduction which explains the period of Romanticism and its relationship to Shakespeare and Verdi. The second section is devoted to discussing the librettist for Macbeth, Francesco Piave. Following this section the opera Macbeth is discussed. Arrigo Boito, the librettist for Otello and Falstaff is discussed in the fourth section. The last two sections deal with Otello and Falstaff. I have also included a number of musical selections to better explain certain passages. My project has been invaluable to me. My Senior Scholar project has allowed me the freedom of independent study as well as a means of tying my majors together.