Opera started in Italy at the end of the 16th century (with
Jacopo Peri's lost Dafne, produced in
Florence around 1597), and was championed by
Claudio Monteverdi with works such as L'Orfeo. It soon spread through the rest of Europe:
Schütz in Germany,
Lully in France, and
Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century. However, in the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe, except France, attracting foreign composers such as
Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until
Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his "reform" operas in the 1760s. Today the most renowned figure of late 18th century opera is
Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian
comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro,
Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute, a landmark in the German tradition.
Falstaff is a comic opera in three acts by
Giuseppe Verdi. The
libretto was adapted by
Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV, parts
2. The work premiered on 9 February 1893 at
La Scala, Milan. Verdi composed Falstaff, which was the last of his 28 operas, as he was approaching the age of 80. It was his second comedy, and his third work based on a Shakespeare play, following Macbeth and Otello. The plot revolves around the thwarted, sometimes farcical, efforts of the fat knight,
Sir John Falstaff, to seduce two married women to gain access to their husbands' wealth. Verdi was concerned about working on a new opera at his advanced age, but he yearned to write a comic work and was pleased with Boito's draft libretto. It took the collaborators three years from mid-1889 to complete. Although the prospect of a new opera from Verdi aroused immense interest in Italy and around the world, Falstaff did not prove to be as popular as earlier works in the composer's canon. After the initial performances in Italy, other European countries and the US, the work was neglected until the conductor
Arturo Toscanini insisted on its revival at La Scala and the
Metropolitan Opera in New York from the late 1890s into the next century. The work is now part of the regular operatic repertory.
Depiction in The Illustrated London News of the final scene of Attila, an opera in a prologue and three acts by
Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian
Temistocle Solera, based on the 1809 play Attila, König der Hunnen (Attila, King of the Huns) by
Zacharias Werner, in which Odabella, a woman who fought the Huns, and thus so impressed Attila that he wished to marry her, shows her true, hidden hatred for the man who killed her father by stabbing Attila in the heart.
Ezio's act 2 aria of heroic resolution "È gettata la mia sorte" ("My lot is cast, I am prepared for any warfare") is a fine example of a characteristic Verdian genre, and it achieved fame in its own time with audiences in the context of the adoption of a liberal constitution by Ferdinand II. Other contemporary comment praised the work as suitable for the "political education of the people", while, in contrast, others criticised the opera as "Teutonic" in nature.
Dmitri Shostakovich (25 September 1906 – 9 August 1975) was a
Russiancomposer of the
Soviet period. He is best known for his satirical
operaThe Nose, (based on
the story by
Gogol) and his cycles of
string quartets, 15 of each. Since his death in 1975, reports about his true personal opinions about life in the USSR have been controversial. While he outwardly conformed with the state and was a public face for state-crafted
propaganda, it is now widely known that he deeply disliked the Soviet regime —a view confirmed by his family, by private letters to Isaak Glikman, and the satirical
cantataAnti-Formalist Rayok, which ridiculed the "anti-formalism" campaign in Soviet arts and was known only to his closest friends until after his death.