Giuseppe Verdi – ‘Revolutionary’ Composer

Day 257 of Colourisation Project – January 19

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Today’s colourisation subject, Giuseppe Verdi, known primarily for his operas, was one of the greatest and most influential composers of the 19th century.

Giuseppe Verdi Bef & Aft

Photographer: Ferdinand Mulnier   ~  Giuseppe Verdi 1876   ~    Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Following on from the bel canto tradition of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini, Verdi dominated the Italian opera scene, taking the form to new heights of drama and musical expression. Verdi composed over 25 operas throughout his career.

Verdi’s works dominate the standard repertoire a century and a half after their composition and are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world. They have reportedly been performed more than any other performer’s worldwide, works such as “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto, “Va, pensiero” (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco, and “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (The Drinking Song) from La traviata, the “Coro di zingari” (Anvil Chorus) from Il trovatore and the “Grand March” from Aida.

Verdi was also regarded as an emblematic figure at the heart of Italy’s Risorgimento and unification.  The acrostic “Viva VERDI,”  was used throughout Italy to secretly call for Vittorio Emanuele Re DItalia, referring to Victor Emmanuel II, then king of Sardinia. After unification was achieved, national sentiment claimed the the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, “Va pensiero,” the lament for a lost homeland and a call to arms for the oppressed everywhere, as a national anthem of sorts.

Verdi died this day, 27 January 1901, in Milan, at age 87. At his funeral service, Arturo Toscanini conducted a full orchestra and choir of 820 voices performing “Va, pensiero”. Estimated at well over 200,000 mourners, the crowd spontaneously joined in the singing. The funeral service remains to date the largest public assembly of any event in the history of Italy.


I leave you today with a rather youngish Luciano Pavarotti, minus his trademark beard singing “La Donna è Mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto; performed in Moscow in 1964 when he would have been 29 years old.



“I adore art…when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear.”  Giuseppe Verdi

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