Music: House That Giovanni Built

"Either accept my conditions or burn the score. I will prepare the fire, and I will personally put Falstaff and his stomach on the flames." So wrote fiery-tempered, 79-year-old Composer Giuseppe Verdi in a letter to his publisher in 1892. But Verdi, who had already received one of the handsomest premiums ever offered a composer, was persuaded not to burn Falstaff. Along with the originals of Verdi's 26 other operas, it was long stored in Milan in a plain brownstone office building at No. 2 Via Berchet, not far from La Scala. The opera...

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