October 22, 2013
Humanities West will celebrate both its own 30th anniversary and the Verdi bicentennial on Nov. 1 and 2, with a program of lectures, discussions, and musical performances on the subject of "Verdi’s Masterwork: Opera and the Birth of Modern Italy." The venue is the Marines’ Memorial Theater.
Verdi was born a half a century before the Kingdom of Italy came into existence; until then the country consisted of principalities dominated by various foreign powers. Verdi's emergence as a great nationalist composer coincided with the development of "risorgimento," the movement for resurgent nationalism and the drive to unify the country.
Kip Cranna of the San Francisco Opera will present an illustrated lecture, "O Patria Mia: Bringing Patriotism to Life on the Stage," with Hope Briggs performing such Verdi arias as "Ritorna vincitor" and "O patria mia" from Aida.
Philip Gossett, from the University of Chicago, lectures on Verdi and the Risorgimento, leading up to the composer becoming a member of the first national Parliament in 1861.
Lectures and discussions follow on Verdi and Garibaldi (military architect of the Risorgimento); a presentation by Mary Ann Smart of UC Berkeley about the political ideas swirling around the operatic world; Cranna returns with a discussion of "listening to Verdi," and Gossett closes the event with a talk about Verdi, Shakespeare, and Falstaff — a topic both timely and local.