Remembering Joe Green: Giuseppe Verdi Turns 200
By: Brad Kronen
That's how I first became familiar with the great composer, Giuseppe Verdi. I was in 2nd grade and my father was taking me on one of my first strolls through that vast, expansive world that is Classical Music, when one is being newly exposed. Aware of my childish inability to fully absorb or pronounce anything remotely resembling Italian, my father would animatedly say to me, "Giuseppe Verdi is another way of saying Joe Green." He would then proceed to play me The Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore from his "Voice of Firestone" record collection. After becoming familiar with the tune, whenever the gaggle of gypsies would sing in unison with their metallic hammers, my father would turn and say "Who wrote it?"
He wrote that and a whole lot more.
This week has been quite the big deal in the Classical Music World, since it marks the 200th Anniversary of the birth of the man who has become one of my all time favorite composers, whose name I not only can pronounce correctly in my non-childish years, but was also lucky enough to perform the man's music as a non-child as well - Giuseppe Verdi.
The man considered by many to be “The Father of Italian Opera” was born on October the 9th or 10th, (historians are still unsure of the exact day), 1813 in the small town of Busseto, in the northern province of Parma, Italy.
Giuseppe Verdi has been an integral force of artistic inspiration throughout the course of my life, starting as early as, well, Joe Green, as already mentioned, to becoming an appreciator and rabid fan of his works, to evolving into an actual interpreter of those works when I performed them with full operatic casts and orchestra ensembles as a professional opera singer.
I will be posting various selections from Verdi's vast lexicon of musical compositions. Some, everyone should know. Some, everyone already knows, but probably don't realize "Il Maestro" wrote the music. And finally, some which I have direct personal experiences of performing that also tell a great story.
So practice on dropping those diaphragms good and deep, folks, and start taking in your best singer's breath! 200 candles take a lot of wind power to blow out.