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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.
©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Paul on 01-30-15

Viva Verdi!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

An excellent review of an amazing man

What other book might you compare The Life and Operas of Verdi to and why?

How to Listen to and Understand Great Operas, Operas of Wagner

Which character – as performed by Professor Robert Greenberg – was your favorite?

Excellent review of Verdi

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

From Italy with Love

Any additional comments?

Prof. Greenberg does and excellent job with these courses. I signed up for Audible 19 months ago and have listened almost exclusively to his courses. Having just finished Verdi, I have listened to all of his courses. It took over 13 days worth of listening according to the Audible clock. My appreciation for music and its composers has been greatly enhanced by listening to Prof. Greenberg's courses. I highly recommend listening to his courses.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful


By Alifa on 12-06-13

The Life and Operas of Verdi

I came late to an appreciation of opera, and found this course to be a fantastic adjunct to my growing knowledge. Sometimes I think the professor was a bit snarky and tried too hard to be funny, but that is merely a quibble. He provided an amazing amount of detail about Verdi's life, and much valuable information about the major operas. I did think he dwelt too long on Verdi's last opera, Falstaff, but that is quite understandable, since it was a radical departure for Verdi (whose operas tended toward the tragic). Now I want to go visit Buzetto and see Verdi's home, and I can hardly wait until June, when La Traviata will be performed at Masada.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Zuzana on 10-27-14

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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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Gareth Newton-Williams on 08-21-16

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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