Personalities | Arrigo Boito | High Romantic | Opera

1842–1918, Italian

Although best known as a librettist, Arrigo Boito was also a composer in his own right. He studied music in Milan with Alberto Mazzucato (1813–77). Later he went to Paris, where he met Verdi and began to think about subjects for operas. The choice was between Nero, the Roman Emperor, and Faust – a subject that fascinated numerous writers, artists and composers during the nineteenth century. In the event Boito chose both subjects, but Faust came first, when he composed his Mefistofele (‘Mephistopheles’, 1868). Sadly, the opera failed at La Scala, Milan. Boito became depressed and turned instead to a much greater talent, his ability to write powerful, meaningful libretti. Boito was also adept at languages and translated into Italian the libretti of several operas – Carl Maria von Weber’s (1786–1826) Der Freischütz and Wagner’s Rienzi (1842) from German and, from Russian, Glinka’s Ruslan i Lyudmila (1842). Meanwhile, with Verdi’s encouragement, Boito tried again with Mefistofele and after revisions, the opera was successfully performed in 1875. Boito began another opera, Nerone (‘Nero’) in 1877, but it was still unfinished when he died some 40 years later. Nerone was completed by Vincenzo Tommasini (1878–1950) and Arturo Toscanini and premiered at La Scala, Milan on 1 May 1924.

Introduction | High Romantic | Opera
Major Operas | Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito | High Romantic
Personalities | Alexander Borodin | High Romantic | Opera
Houses & Companies | La Scala, Milan | High Romantic | Opera


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