Life

Italian composer, librettist and poet (February 24th, 1842, Padova - 1918, Milan)

Although chiefly remembered for his work as a librettist, essentially for Verdi (he wrote the libretto for his two Shakespearean adaptations: Falstaff and Othello and revised the text for Simon Boccanegra), he also wrote the full libretto and music for one single opera: Mefistofele, now part of the common international repertoire.

Thanks to a composition prize he was awarded as a student, he was able to travel through the rest of Europe and spent two years visiting Poland (where is mother was from), England, Germany and France (where he met Hugo, Berlioz, Rossini and Verdi). He was particularly impressed by the opera works of Richard Wagner and Ludwig Van Beethoven, whose powerful and dramatic presentation he used to reshape traditional elements of Italian opera. The result was Mefistofele, an opera inspired by Goethe's Faust, completed at the age of 24 and released under heavy critique from the religious parties who strongly objected to his modernist approach of the traditional Faust thematic (objected being a rather soft word for the barrage of hiss, fits and other half-expressed wishes to see him burnt alive on public place for his sacrilege).

After much editing and rewriting, Mefistofele was released again a few years later to a somewhat more appreciative audience, but Boito seemed to have lost most of his musical inspiration by then. From thereafter, he focused on writing and produced the librettos for Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda (1875) and Verdi's Othello (1883) and Falstaff (1890).

Having been appointed senator in 1912, he kept working until his death on Nerone, to be his second opus, but only completed the first four acts (the last act was written by Antonio Smareglia and Vincenzo Tommasini) and died in Milan in 1918. His other writings, in the form of correspondence (especially with Verdi) and poetry are still popular items of Italian culture.

Works
  • 1868 and 1875: libretto and music for Mefistofele, opera based on Goethe's Faust

  • 1875: libretto for La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli
  • 1883: libretto for Othello by Giuseppe Verdi based on Shakespeare's eponymous play
  • 1890: libretto for Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi also based on Shakespeare
  • 1918: Nerone (Nero), left unfinished
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