Channeling the Spirit of Verdi

Marking the composer’s birth with a series of socially charged performances.

By Andrew Thurston | Photo by Cydney Scott

Many composers have mixed art with “more socially conscious activities,” says Jerrold Pope, chair of the voice department, but Giuseppe Verdi “just may have done it better than most.”

The School of Music is celebrating the composer of Aida and Rigoletto in a yearlong series of master classes, recitals, and lectures. The Spirit of Verdi, which includes contributions from the Metropolitan Opera’s Jane Klaviter and Donald Palumbo (CAS’70), marks the 200th anniversary of the maestro’s birth.

“Verdi thought of himself as a farmer first, a citizen second, and a musician and composer third,” says Pope of the sometime politician famed for lacing his musical works with social commentary. Pope hopes students will be inspired to explore the ways Verdi juggled and blended the artistic and altruistic: “I am hard-pressed to think of any classical composer or performer in the twentieth or twenty-first century who was so selfless.”

The festival embodies Verdi’s commitment to good causes by inviting audience members to donate to charitable organizations. BU gave a portion of proceeds from the performance of La traviata to the Greater Boston Food Bank.

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