In his preface to Tout Verdi, Dominique Fernandez presents the composer as the "Victor Hugo of music": a committed man who sought to lend European music its dignity by making it a reflection of the great questions of its era ( …)
In his preface to Tout Verdi, Dominique Fernandez presents the composer as the "Victor Hugo of music": a committed man who sought to lend European music its dignity by making it a reflection of the great questions of its era. The Chorus of Exiles in Nabucco gave the signal: for Verdi, opera had ceased to be mere entertainment and had become an active element in the patriotic struggle. From that point on, it became impossible to disassociate Verdi’s passions, his high aspirations and his indignations from those conveyed in his works. Tout Verdi opens with his life story as recounted by Sylvain Fort. It is the story of the son of an innkeeper in the Po River plains—a story replete with a multitude of episodes and peppered with betrayals and recurrent controversies. Moreover, the Verdi bibliography is enriched by an editorial coup: the translation of a large anthology of Verdi’s Letters. These letters—many of which were hitherto unpublished in French—are presented and annotated by Marc Lesage and add substance to Verdi’s portrait. The publication of the letters will help us to hone our knowledge of this fascinating composer: He was not merely concerned with enchanting the listener with his art, he wanted, more than anything else, to move people. The fervour of his musical style and the unbridled passions of his opera characters can be found in his correspondence which offers a fascinating insight into a genius at work in a world where his mind teemed with thoughts. Verdi transcribed the quintessence of literary romanticism onto the opera stage, giving life to often woeful stories and the irrepressible, heroic and deeply moving characters in them. An exploration of their characters and the challenges they faced can also be found in the core analysis of the musical work which this volume offers. Operas are presented in chronological order, with, for each, a summary of the storyline, the circumstances of the composition, an analysis of the libretto, and the manner in which the work was received. The research is complemented with discographies and videographies, as well as a highly useful table of Verdi roles. It also contains a guide to the choral music, chamber music and the early works from his youth which, like the operas, are full of discoveries. After the analysis of the man and his work, a Dictionary highlights the people, places and themes associated with Verdi. This helps to facilitate the general reading of the work while raising some original viewpoints: it summarises a century and a half of cultural history. Like Victor Hugo, Verdi moved audiences. A people’s artist, he knew how to touch the most demanding music lovers, because his art is universal. The book also aims to rehabilitate and foster a better understanding of a great composer who—as Dominique Fernandez underscores in this vibrant endorsement—has not always received the full recognition he deserves.