Why I Love Verdi
George W. Martin
Why do I like Verdi? Because his operas, all of them, are about people, human beings.
Dragons, pits of fire, mythical gods and Mephistopheles are all good fun, and I watch and listen with pleasure. But it is the human dramas that move me most deeply.
Death, as Verdi once said, is the only certainty in life; all else is partly chance, over which we humans have little or no control. But one thing we can control, and every Verdi opera, well or poorly, states it: We can take responsibility for what we make of ourselves, and we can choose how we face the sufferings and catastrophes of life, whether with complaint and cowardice, or with courage and some nobility. And he always celebrates the latter. I weep for Violetta, Leonora, Otello, and with his music he can even make me weep for the ignoble but still human Rigoletto.
(George W. Martin is the author of Verdi in America: Oberto through Rigoletto; Aspects of Verdi; Verdi, His Music, Life and Times; and Verdi at the Golden Gate: Opera and San Francisco in the Golden Rush Years.)