Boito, Arrigo [Enrico]
- William Ashbrook
(b Padua, Feb 24, 1842; d Milan, June 10, 1918). Italian librettist, composer, poet and critic. He is best remembered for his one completed opera, Mefistofele, and for his collaborations as librettist with Verdi.
The son of a painter of miniatures and a Polish countess, he was brought up in Venice after his father deserted his wife and two sons. Between the ages of five and ten he received his first musical instruction from Luigi Plet and the brothers Antonio and Giovanni Buzzolla. There being no conservatory at Venice, he enrolled at the Milan Conservatory in 1853; after 1854 his course was subsidized by a grant. At first his teachers found him eccentric and lackadaisical, but when he began his lifelong friendship with another student, Franco Faccio, admitted in 1855, Boito's progress became marked. In September 1860 their joint cantata, Il quattro giugno, was performed at the conservatory. The title referred to ...