Giuseppe Verdi and his supporters
Donald Macleod looks at the personalities who helped Verdi achieve success.
Antonio Barezzi, a distiller and grocer, sponsored Verdi as a child. Later on, Barezzi's daughter Margherita, also a keen supporter of Verdi's ambitions, became the composer's first wife.
One of Verdi's most loyal supporters was the opera singer Giuseppina Strepponi. Despite the difficulties her tarnished reputation caused the couple, their relationship endured for half a century. Verdi relied on her steady emotional support, advice over singers and her ability to deal with all his professional matters including tactfully negotiating disputes with colleagues and friends.
The librettist Francesco Maria Piave worked with Verdi for more than 20 years, and together they were responsible for some of Verdi's biggest hits and also some of his more memorable flops. Verdi regarded Piave as a good friend, but that did not stop him from accusing Piave of being long winded, criticising him and, in the case of Macbeth, sending the work straight to another writer and translator, Andrea Maffei, for further work.
Arrigo Boito was the librettist with whom Verdi produced his later operas Otello, Falstaff and a much revised Simon Boccanegra. Verdi greatly admired Boito, a composer in his own right, for his brilliant mind. Their association had an unfortunate start as Boito insulted Verdi and the novelist Alessandro Manzoni at a banquet by reading out an ode he had written about the decrepit old men who were ruining Italian art. While it was 20 years before they become friends, they remained so until Verdi's death.
By his death in 1901, Verdi had achieved great recognition. Internationally acclaimed, feted wherever he went, his long career had by then spanned 60 years. He had amassed a fortune, due in part to the fact that he was a shrewd businessman but also because of the efforts of Casa Ricordi, the publishing house which had, and continued, to tirelessly promote his music.