and Piave: A Typical Partnership
Verdi and Francesco Piave were both verysuccessful men. Verdi had
written many well-received operas, and Piave had written for all the
best opera composers. Verdi and Piave worked together on several of
the most successful operas produced anywhere in Italy.
Verdi thought that he had read a play that would make a great opera.
It was called The King's Amusement, and was written by the
very successful French playwright and author, Victor Hugo. Piave and
Verdi started creating the opera immediately. Piave would write the
words, and then Verdi would correct them. Verdi almost always found
something to complain about in the words, but Piave was used to that,
and he would just continue to write until Verdi was satisfied.
But they also had bigger problems. Italy at that time was not one
country. It was made up of many small countries that were all being
ruled by the Emperor of Austria. The emperor was worried about everything
that happened in Italy. People were beginning to riot against his
rule, and they were calling for their own country and their own king.
The Austrian government knew that Verdi believed that an Italian king
should rule Italy, so they looked very carefully at every opera that
he created. They made Verdi change the title of the opera and change
the king into a duke. Verdi did what they wanted.
Soon the opera was completed and rehearsals for the performance started.
Verdi knew that he had written some of the best music ever for this
opera, and he was afraid that someone else might want to steal it.
He was especially proud of the Duke's song, "La Donna Mobile."
He knew it would be a hit but he didn't want anyone else claiming
the song. So he didn't give anyone the music until the day before
the performance. He was right. The song was the hit of the show and
the show was a smashing success.