Stage & Scene | Verdi & his Librettists | High Romantic | Opera
Throughout his long career, Verdi worked with several librettists and gained a reputation for being something of a tartar. Sometimes he would even write the text himself, only allowing his librettist to put it into verse. The composer had strong ideas about what he wanted from the text to his operas; in the early compositions this was a dramatic series of confrontations, perfectly set by Temistocle Solera in Nabucco, I Lombardi, Giovanna d’Arco and Attila, and set by Salvadore Cammarano in Luisa Miller, the celebrated Il trovatore and others.
Verdi worked more comfortably with Francesco Maria Piave (1810–76), a personal friend who was responsible for Ernani, I due Foscari, Macbeth, Il corsaro, Stiffelio, Rigoletto, La traviata, Simon Boccanegra and La forza del destino. Another librettist who did not give in to Verdi’s bullying was Eugène Scribe; they clashed on several occasions, but Scribe usually won. A more congenial librettist, Camille du Locle, wrote Don Carlos and provided the original libretto of Aida, which was translated into Italian by Antonio Ghislanzoni, a former baritone who had sung in Ernani in Paris.
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