- Dr Simon Maguire with Ricardo Panela (baritone) and Mari Wyn Williams (soprano) accompanied by Natalie Burch
Following the recent rediscovery of private letters between Giuseppe Verdi and Salvadore Cammarano, Dr Simon Maguire of Sotheby’s will begin this morning’s lecture with the thrilling tale of their preservation, saved for the nation by the Italian government whilst they were on the brink of vanishing into a private collection.
It is difficult to imagine a greater addition to Verdi Studies in recent years. These new letters, with particular reference to Alzira (1845), La battaglia di Legnano, Luisa Miller (both 1849), Rigoletto (1851) and Il trovatore (1853), chart Verdi’s progress from writer subservient to the opera-house and beholden to the librettist, to the master of the subject and in control of the text.
Rising young baritone, Ricardo Panela will then take over with an exploration of one of opera’s most fertile partnerships with particular focus the compositional process and vocal requirements to be a Verdian singer. Mari Wynn Williams will accompany him with sung excerpts.
Salvadore Cammarano was born into a family of artists in Naples and trained as a painter and sculptor before becoming one of the most celebrated librettists of his age. He is best remembered for his collaborations with Donizetti – most particularly for the libretto of Lucia di Lammermoor – and with Verdi, the towering genius of his generation. Their partnership came to an abrupt end, however, with Cammarano’s untimely death at the age of 51, whilst he was in the process of creating the libretto for Il trovatore, which would become a huge posthumous success. Verdi was bereft – “I simply can’t tell you how upset I am!”, he wrote to a mutual friend on hearing of his death – and the discovery of this trove of letters between the Italian composer and his favourite librettist, described by the auction house as a monumental discovery that radically alters our understanding of Verdi’s creative process.
Dr Simon Maguire joined Sotheby’s in 1990 and in his current role is in charge of preparing and cataloguing specialist sales in London for Music (composers’ autographs and letters, music manuscripts, first editions of Mozart, Beethoven and other great composers) and also for continental literary manuscripts and letters, particularly in German and Italian. Dr Maguire studied (and later taught) music at Oxford University and wrote a thesis on 19th-century Italian opera, which was published in New York and London in 1989. He is a world authority on this subject and has contributed numerous articles to the New Grove Dictionary of Opera. He specialises in the music of Verdi and Bellini.
- Concert Duration:
- approx. 2 hours