I don’t think Giuseppe Verdi ever wrote an opera that didn’t include a love interest – usually portrayed in terms of the unfortunate, violent, or even deadly consequences that their hapless characters suffer as the result of ill-advised infatuation. Verdi has thus built an enviable reputation as an expert when it comes to the downsides of romance, and there are many valuable lessons to be learned from the study of his work.
In just about any of his operas, Verdi clearly demonstrates the impaired thinking, poor judgment, lack of common sense, and irrational behavior that characterize hopelessly love-stricken folks. Thus, as a public service, we at Delos thought it appropriate – on this Valentine’s Day – to offer our readers a few of Verdi’s wise warnings and precautionary measures that lovelorn victims of Cupid’s bow might take to heart … that is, if they can still think straight! Read on:
- A lesson for the ladies comes in Rigoletto. Emerging star tenor Michael Spyres, in his recent A Fool for Love (DE 3414) album, teaches that naïve girls should be wary of womanizing young noblemen in disguise (especially those with a taste for slumming), lest they end up in a body bag. (While he’s at it, Spyres demonstrates many additional romantic risks from other composers as well)
- Verdi dispenses abundant advice for gals and guys alike in Verdi Opera Scenes (DE 3403), (and the corresponding DVD, Hvorostovsky in Moscow – DV 7006), wherein superstars Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky explore a number of avoidable love-related perils:
- Gents: Before you shoot your boss, make sure the rumors of your wife’s affair with him are true (Un Ballo in Maschera).
- Ladies: Hide your husband’s gun, and tell him to avoid costume parties (same opera).
- Gents: Be suspicious of a woman who suddenly gives in after playing hard-to-get … she might take poison, just to spite you (Il Trovatore).
- Ladies: Steer clear of that heroic singer who serenades you – especially if he was raised by an alleged gypsy witch (same opera).
- An even broader array of lessons can be learned from Verdi-Briccialdi: Operatic Fantasies (DE 3429), particularly if you would rather hear the “singing” from Raffaele Trevisani’s spectacularly played flute. Inferring from the plots of the seven different Verdi operas the album covers, you can learn things like:
- Ladies: Aida teaches that, if you persist in playing the drama queen, you could end up buried alive under a pyramid.
- Gents: La Traviata suggests that, if you fall for a girl who parties too hard, she could spend the next couple of hours dying on you (even if she sings gloriously all the while).
- Ladies: Macbeth discourages the murder of your rivals, lest you confess while sleepwalking – OH, and tell your husband never to listen to witches.
- Gents: From Don Carlo, you learn that it may well be easier to liberate an oppressed nation than to deal with a love-triangle; also, following the ghost of your Dad into his tomb is not the best way to escape your problems.
And so, dear readers – you can plainly see that if, on this Valentines Day, you find your love-life to be problematic … Verdi (and Delos) can help!