Opera: Arias to Fight By

"There is, and should be," trumpeted Giuseppe Verdi, "only one kind of music pleasing to Italian ears—the music of guns! I would not write a note for all the gold in the world: I should feel immense remorse for using up music paper, which is so good for making cartridges." The declaration, prompted by the news of the 1848 rebellion against the Austrians, who were then ruling most of Italy, is indicative of the flaming patriotism that consumed the composer's early life and work. He was then 35 and had already written twelve operas, most of them bristling with...

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