We would like to remind those who will be alone on Valentine’s Day that the Music Library will be open from 9 am to 10 pm, and our audiovisual stacks offer a wide array of reminders that the course of true love does not run particularly smoothly. For the Taylor Swiftian who just knows that if you’re nice and helpful enough, your beloved is bound to leave hir current stormy relationship and start dating you, La Gioconda offers a warning (also a reminder that Les Miserables is far from the only bizarre Victor Hugo plot rendered into popular musical entertainment.) Take it from Lucia di Lammermoor‘s Arturo: if she doesn’t want to be with you, she really doesn’t want to be with you!
Found your perfect mate? Sure nothing can go wrong? Otello and his bride might have something to say about that. Elsa from Lohengrin would probably advise you to be happy with what you have and not ask too many questions, while Judith from Bluebeard’s Castle might modify that recommendation and suggest you ask the questions before you and your intended are isolated together in a gloomy stronghold. Does s/he have controlling, overbearing relatives? Does s/he have a problem with drinking, drugs, gambling or infidelity? Does s/he just have problems, full stop? And if you doubt the need for a pre-nup, consider the fate of Elisabetta in Don Carlo: don’t let your prospective father-in-law substitute himself for your bridegroom at the last minute.
If you and your Ms. or Mr. Right are thinking of having kids, Peter and Gertrud from Hänsel und Gretel would urge you to find competent and reliable child care. Asking Kostelnička Buryjovka or Azucena from Il Trovatore, for example, would be a bad idea. Make sure your babysitter clearly understands and follows all instructions. Bandits, pirates, enemy soldiers and other wanderers are everywhere, just waiting to seize your precious little bundle and raise him or her as one of their own. (And if you must split up, you’ll probably want a better custody plan than the one in Medea.)
If, on the other hand, your beloved just wants somebody who isn’t you (and you don’t feel comfortable stabbing, betraying or poisoning them) why not be like two of the greatest characters in all opera and graciously let them go? The beautiful music you get to sing, and the respect from other characters in the opera, might make the whole thing worth it! Happy Valentine’s Day!
As we near our goal of digitizing the Music Library’s collection of first editions and notable variants of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas, these vocal scores and libretti have been added to the digital scores collection:
Frontispiece, Un Ballo in Maschera. Merritt Room Mus 857.1.678.7 PHI
Cover, Simon Boccanegra. Merritt Room Mus 589.350.9
Title page, Rigoletto. Merritt Room Mus 857.1.559
- Giovanna d’Arco: dramma lirico in quattro parti da rappresentarsi nel regio Teatro il carnovale del 1845-46, alla presenza delle LL. SS. RR. MM. Torino: Tipografia dei fratelli Favale, .
Merritt Room Mus 577.322.11
An early edition of the libretto, published with two ballet scenarios by Luigi Astolfi: Alma, ossia, La figlia del fuoco and Il consiglio di Recluta.
Il finto Stanislao: melodramma giocoso in due atti / de Felice Romani; posto in musica dal maestro Giuseppe Verdi; riduzione per canto con accompagnamento di pianoforte dei L. Truzzi, A. Rajneri e C. Dominiceti. Milano: G. Ricordi, .
The first complete edition of the vocal score. After one performance at La Scala in 1840, with the title Un Giorno di Regno, Il Finto Stanislao was next produced in 1845 in Venice.
- Attila : dramma lirico in tre atti con prologo / poesia di T. Solera ; musica di Gius. Verdi ; canto con accompto. di piano forte. [1st ed.]. Milano : F. Lucca, .
The first complete edition of the first version, premiered at La Fenice in 1846.
- L’assedio di Arlem: tragedia lirica in quattro atti / posta in musica del maestro Giuseppe Verdi; riduzione per canto con accomp. di pianoforte di E. Muzio. Milano: G. Ricordi, .
Hopkinson, 50A A(b)
The confusing production and publication history of L’Assedio di Arlem/La Battaglia di Legnano reveals some of the changes that could be made to accommodate the political climates of different cities (and the demands of censors). When premiered in 1849 in Rome – as La Battaglia di Legnano – this patriotic opera was set in 1176 during the struggles of the Lombard League against Frederick Barbarossa and the Holy Roman Empire. In the aftermath of failed revolutions against the Austrian Empire, however, such an obviously nationalistic subject was viewed with suspicion: while this variant of the first complete edition, published in Austrian-governed Milan, preserves the original music, it moves the action of the work instead to 16th-century Haarlem, during the Eighty Years’ War between the Dutch provinces and the Spanish Habsburg Empire.1
- Rigoletto : melodramma di F.M. Piave ; musica del maestro G. Verdi ; riduzioni per canto con accomp. di pfte. di Luigi Truzzi. Milano : G. Ricordi, .
Merritt Room Mus 857.1.559
A variant of the first complete edition, not listed in Hopkinson.
- Un ballo in maschera : melodramma tragico in tre atti / musica di G. Verdi ; riduzione per canto e pianoforte di Luigi ed Alessandro Truzzi. Milan : Ricordi, .
Merritt Room Mus 857.1.678.7 PHI
An early edition of the vocal score, not listed in Hopkinson.
- Simon Boccanegra : melodramma in un prologo e tre atti / di F. M. Piave ; musica di G. Verdi. Milano : R. Stabilimento Ricordi, .
Merritt Room Mus 689.630.360.9 PHI
The first edition of the revised version of the libretto, from the La Scala staging of 1880-1881.
1. For more information about the composition and publication of L’Assedio di Arlem, see Cecil Hopkinson, A Bibliography of the Works of Giuseppe Verdi, 1813-1901 (New York: Broude Brothers, 1973-1978) and Roger Parker, “La Battaglia di Legnano“, in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online (access restricted to Harvard affiliates).
– Kerry Masteller