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Meet the Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave

By: Bethany Wooden

The trendy American librettist Mark Campbell likens the position of an opera librettist to an architect. A librettist makes use of phrases to create the inspiration and construction upon which the composer creates a masterpiece. Campbell says, “A librettist shouldn’t be as obsessed about phrases as they’re story and construction.” Librettist Francesco Maria Piave tailored Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse and collaborated with composer Giuseppe Verdi to create the masterpiece, Rigoletto. Study extra concerning the lifetime of Piave—the architect, the librettist, the artists.

Expertise Verdi’s Rigoletto November 5-13. Tickets are on sale now, beginning at simply $39>>

Francesco Maria Piave’s Early Life

Francesco Maria Piave was born in Murano, a sequence of islands only one mile north of Venice. Murano was well-known for the artwork of glass making, and Piave’s father owned a glass manufacturing facility. When their household fell on exhausting occasions, Piave and his father moved to Rome to search out work. Piave, who had studied on the seminary in Venice, discovered jobs writing and translating and have become associates with poets and literati in Rome.

After the loss of life of his father, Piave returned to Venice in September 1838, the place he labored as a proofreader and editor for a writer named Guiseppe Antonelli. Piave additionally wrote concerning the arts for the Gazzetta privilegiata di Venezia, {a magazine} for privileged Venetians.

Piave the Librettist

A sepia-toned illustration of Piave performing a speech with text in hand and a stringed instrument on his back.
Illustration of librettist Piave as a jack of all theatrical trades.

In 1841, Piave turned his writing efforts to a libretto for composer Samuel Levi—an adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s La Bottega del Caffe (The Espresso Home). The work was by no means carried out, however the train gave Piave his first expertise in writing for opera. Piave accomplished a second libretto, for composer Giovanni Pacini, and, in 1843, agreed to write down a libretto for an opera to be carried out at Venice’s famed Teatro La Fenice—the composer for this opera was Guiseppe Verdi.

The Collaboration of Piave and Verdi

A grainy black and white photograph shows an adult Francesco Maria Piave sitting in an ornately carved wooden chair.
{A photograph} of librettist Francesco Maria Piave.

Piave and Verdi had not met, however the two corresponded by letter to collaborate on the libretto for Ernani, an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s play Hernani. Piave accomplished the libretto in lower than two months, however Verdi feared the author’s inexperience with staging an opera led him to overload the libretto with verbose passages—taxing singers and audiences alike. Touring to Venice, Verdi met Piave for the primary time. Piave and Verdi turned shut associates, typically touring so they might work collectively in particular person and corresponding commonly when collaborating throughout distances. Verdi was generally domineering, as when the manufacturing of Rigoletto was in jeopardy, however Piave remained loyal. Piave as soon as described their friendship as “a religion, a faith, a cult.”

Francesco Maria Piave’s Late Life

On December 5, 1867, Piave suffered a debilitating stroke, which robbed him of his skill to talk and transfer. Verdi, together with others within the music neighborhood, helped assist the librettist and his household throughout his sickness. Throughout his lifetime, Piave wrote roughly seventy librettos, however right now, he’s primarily remembered for the ten he wrote for Verdi’s operas, together with Macbeth (1847), Rigoletto (1851), and La Traviata (1853).

Expertise Verdi’s Rigoletto November 5-13. Tickets are on sale now, beginning at simply $39>>


Which Verdi and Piave collaboration is your favourite? What do you assume makes an excellent libretto? Tell us within the feedback beneath!



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