- Roger Parker
Dramma lirico in a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to a libretto by Temistocle Solera (with additional material by Francesco Maria Piave) after Zacharias Werner’s play Attila, König der Hunnen; Venice, Teatro La Fenice, 17 March 1846.
Verdi had read Werner’s ultra-Romantic play as early as 1844, and initially discussed the subject with Piave. However, for his second opera at La Fenice, the composer eventually fixed on Solera, the librettist with whom – at least until then – he seems to have preferred working. Solera set about preparing the text according to his usual format, with plenty of opportunity for grand choral tableaux such as are found in Nabucco and I Lombardi; but the progress of the opera was beset with difficulties. First Verdi fell seriously ill, and then Solera went off to live permanently in Madrid, leaving the last act as only a sketch and necessitating the calling in of the faithful Piave after all. Verdi instructed Piave to ignore Solera’s plans for a large-scale choral finale and to concentrate on the individuals, a change of direction that Solera strongly disapproved of. The première, whose cast included Ignazio Marini (Attila), Natale Costantini (Ezio), Sophie Loewe (Odabella) and Carlo Guasco (Foresto), was coolly received, but ...