- Roger Parker
Dramma lirico in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to a libretto by Arrigo Boito after William Shakespeare’s play Othello, or The Moor of Venice; Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 5 February 1887.
As the 1870s progressed, Verdi seemed increasingly isolated from current trends in Italian music, in particular by the tendency of both public and composers to look outside Italy (to France and, later, even more to Germany) for new ideas and aesthetic attitudes. It is against this background that we should examine his reluctance to write new works after the Requiem of 1874: Verdi was a composer who, after being at the forefront of Italian musical taste for two decades, suddenly found himself accused of being distinctly old-fashioned, out of touch with the times; and indeed he probably felt so too. Those who sought to lure him out of self-imposed retirement, among whom the prime mover was the young director of the Ricordi publishing house, Giulio Ricordi, had to tread carefully. Ricordi eventually teamed up with Arrigo Boito, the librettist and composer, who in the 1860s had been one of the most visible of the Italian avant garde, but whose respect for the old maestro was growing with the years. In ...