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Giuseppe Verdi Biography (1813 – 1901)

"Of all composers, past and present, I am the least learned. I mean that in all seriousness, and by learning I do not mean knowledge of music." - Verdi, 1869

Born October 10, 1813, Giuseppe Verdi dominated the musical scene in Italy for over half a century. From humble beginnings, Verdi was born at Le Roncole, a village in the Duchy of Parma, which was part of Napolean’s Kingdom of Italy.

In 1823 he moved to nearby Busseto to study music under Provesi at the ‘Ginnasio’. In 1832, he failed admission into the Milan Conservatory due to “insufficient talent”. He returned to Busseto in 1836 and married Margherita Barezzi whose father was a locally-known organist and an early benefactor to Verdi. They had a daughter and son. Both children, along with their mother, died of separate illnesses by 1840. Pressured to write a comedie, Verdi composed Un giorno di regno which received a sour welcome.
 
Verdi felt he had nothing left to give as a composer. Merelli, the administrator of La Scala, approached him with a libretto from Nabucco. This single gesture saved Verdi’s career and Nabucco became his first masterpiece. What followed was a half-century of 29 operas, many of which the censors felt compelled to alter due to political implications.

Rigoletto (1851) marks the pinnacle of Verdi’s career and is regarded as a work of genius reflecting his style from past works but transcending them with an increased focus on drama over vocalism.

In August 1859, he married long-time companion Giuseppina Strepponi, whom he met twenty years earlier. They had a solid marriage in spite of complications during the 1870’s. During this time Verdi had a seven-year affair with the soprano, Teresa Stolz. Verdi died in 1901 in Milan following a stroke. Although he requested no music or singing at his funeral, crowds of people gathered on the streets to mourn his passing. They sang ‘Va, pensiero’.
 
 
Maurizio Arena Biography
 
Born in Messina, Maurizio Arena studied orchestra conducting with Franco Ferrara in Perugia. After spending some time apprenticing for, and gaining experience from, Maestros Serafin, Votto, and Gavazzeni, he conducted La Bohème at the Theatre Massimo in Palermo. Following this, his name became associated with significant premières on the podium, including: Wozzeck by Berg, Ifigenia by Pizzetti, Carmina Burana by Orff, Il Mulatto by Meyerowitz, Billy Budd by Ghedini and numerous other symphonic scores and ballets.
       
He has been a regular guest at the principal theatres and symphonic institutions around the world since 1971. In Europe, Arena has performed in Brussels, Paris, Lyon, Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Barcelona, Aix en Provence, at the Festival d'Orange, Arena di Verona, with the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestra of the Polish Radio/Television, and the Sofia Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also worked with the Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, the Verdi Festival in California, Teatro Colòn of Buenos Aires, and in Japan (Tokyo and Osaka).
 
 
Director John Copley Biography
 
John Copley has directed opera in most of the world's major opera houses. He began his career as an apprentice at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, soon rising to Assistant Producer for the Royal Opera House, and subsequently becoming the Principal Resident Conductor. He’s worked with the world's greatest conductors, Sir Georg Solti, Sir Colin Davis, Carlos Kleiber, and Sir John Pritchard, amongst others. Among his greatest successes were Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Cosi fan Tutte and a highly acclaimed production of La Boheme.
 
Outside of his native England, Copley has worked in Europe for the Netherlands Opera, the Bavarian State Opera, the Greek National Opera, as well as in Munich, Berlin, Geneva, Amsterdam, and Stockholm. North America has been equally kind to Copley, working regularly with the major American opera companies including the Metropolitan Opera House, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera and for many years as a director with the Canadian Opera Company. 
 
Stefka Evstatieva Biography
 
One of the world’s most critically acclaimed sopranos, the Bulgarian born Stefka Evstatieva made her Canadian Opera Company debut in La Forza Del Destino. Her impressive list of previous performances includes debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, and Arena di Verona, where she received the Giovanni Zenatello Award for the year’s best performance. She has performed the roles of Desdemona in Otello, and Maddalena di Coigny in Andrea Chenier, as well as in Slavic Operas such as Prince Igor. Evstatieva has been awarded her country’s highest artistic tribute, "Honored Artist of the Bulgarian Republic." She also has successful career as a recording artist.
 
 
Judith Forst Biography
 
Canadian mezzo-soprano Judith Forst began her career at the University of British Columbia, and has since triumphed with the major opera companies of North America. Known as a devout Canadian who spends much of her time doing benefit concerts and mentoring young performers, Forst has been awarded the distinction of Officer of the Order of Canada, is a recipient of the Order of British Columbia and in 1978 was named Canadian Woman of the Year. She received an honorary Doctorate from U.B.C., the first performing artist alumna to be so honored, and an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Victoria. Forst has starred in major television productions and recorded a number of albums.
 
Allan Monk Biography
 
Allan Monk’s career has been praised by the press and public alike for his graceful baritone voice and his in-depth character interpretations. Monk originally sang Musical Comedy before working his way up at the San Francisco Opera Company, where he performed many leading roles before moving on to New York’s Metropolitan Opera in the mid 1970s. Monk’s huge variety of leading roles include: Wozzeck, Don Carlo, Falstaff, Madama Butterfly, I Pagliacci, and La Boheme. He has also been the recipient of a variety of honor and distinctions including the Jubilee Medal & Officer of the Order of Canada.
 
Ernesto Veronelli
 
Ernesto Veronelli was born in Lainate, about 10 km from Milan. He has performed principal roles all over the globe, including stints at La Scala in Milan, Arena in Verona, Staatsoper in Vienna, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and in Johannesburg. In May of 1996, he was awarded the historical honor of Knight of the Order of Malta, which serves as an acknowledgment of his strong professional activity. Three years later, his President extended the recognition of Knight of the Order to honor Veronelli throughout the entire Italian Republic.