Opera: Viva Verdi?

The trombone players vaulted out of the orchestra pit, swinging their horns like battle-axes. Then the woodwinds, a double-bass player and even the first violins joined in, tearing furiously into the astonished audience in pursuit of hecklers' blood. When the police arrived, chairs were flying through the air across the courtyard of Venice's Palazzo Ducale. It took a frantic half hour to drag all the punch-drunk musicologists out into St. Mark's Square for a cooling breath of air.

Even for Italy, it was an extraordinary display of artistic temperament. The occasion had started as a concert performance of Verdi's //...

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