Verdi, Giuseppe

He had an iron constitution, and energy of character; was tall, agile and vigorous. The quiet of these years was broken in 1881, when a revised version of Simon Boccanegra was given at Milan. Verdi called upon the famous poet-composer, Arrigo Boito, to overhaul the libretto completely, and this time the opera was a great success. During the retirement which followed this production rumors of a new opera were circulating. These were eventually verified by the magnificent Otello, given in Milan, 1887. Its success was overwhelming; the verdict of the critics and musicians assembled from all over the world was unanimous. Verdi was feted as never composer had been feted before. Surely it would now seem that he could afford to rest on his laurels. But in his old age this musician, who never felt old, began on a work which is full of inspiration, beauty and youth. It is pure comedy throughout. Falstaff, given at La Scala, in Milan, 1893, electrified the musical world. It seems to breathe the spirit of youth, and Verdi said he thoroughly enjoyed writing it. In this, his farewell to the world, he has, like Rembrandt in his last portrait, taken leave of it with a smile on his face. The librettos for Otello and Falstaff were furnished by Boito and are the two finest in existence. These two works embody all the best features of the modern school of music, without losing touch with the great masters of the past. Verdi was no innovator; he did not change systems, but turned his genius to developing existing materials to the highest conceivable pitch of beauty and completeness.

Verdi is known to have refused the offer, in 1871, to succeed Mercadante as director of the Conservatory at Naples. He was a member of the Academic des Beaux Arts, Paris, succeeding Meyerbeer. He was elected deputy to the new kingdom of Parma, and was a member of the Italian Parliament, though he resigned after two or three years. In 1875 he was made senator by King Victor Emmanuel. Through all these honors he remained a simple gentleman. His wife died late in 1897, and was buried in the House of Rest, near Milan, a home for aged artists, founded by Verdi as a love-offering to her. He died in 1901 and is buried beside his wife.