Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part VIII

During the Second World War at the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt better known as Terezin, Verdi’s Requiem was performed an astounding 16 times. A Romanian conductor and composer named Rafael Schachter both organized and conducted the singers and instrumentalists from start to finish. Having only his one copy of the score which he carried with him everywhere, Schachter secretly arranged rehearsals with his fellow inmates until they were at a performance level to present Verdi’s masterpiece to the public. When asked why he dared to perform a Catholic Requiem among predominantly Jewish prisoners, Schachter replied:

“We must respond to the worst of mankind with the best of mankind.”

Through his life and art, it can be said that Giuseppe Verdi has assisted in bringing mankind significantly closer to a Divine Source.

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Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part V

The diabolically dramatic entrance aria sung by the witch Ulrica in Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” holds a momentous place in the History of Classical Music, since that was the vocal piece sung by the first African American to grace the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. The vocally astounding contralto, Marian Anderson made operatic history when she sang the role of Ulrica during her one and only operatic performance in front of a live audience on January 7th, 1955.

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Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part IV

Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part IV The ABC’s of opera became not so basic when casts of 100’s and live elephants were added to an opera house’s ever rising production costs to put on Verdi’s “Aida”. The Triumphal March from Verdi’s opera “Aida” For our next musical extravaganza honoring Giuseppe Verdi, […]

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Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part III

Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part III Poster of the premiere performance of Verdi’s “Nabucco” on March 9th, 1842   “Va Pensiero” from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Nabucco   The next installment honoring Giuseppe Verdi is one of his most beloved pieces for full 4 part chorus, “Va, Pensiero”, in English, “Fly, Thought on […]

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Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi, Part II

The most well loved tenor aria of all time is from Verdi’s masterpiece “Rigoletto”. It’s the anthem song of the chauvinistic pig who (keeping things polite) is a tad too preoccupied with loving (followed by immediately leaving) the ladies and is sung by the character considered to be the Lord King Chauvinist of both Pig and Player alike, the Duke of Mantua.

Before the opera even made it to the stage, Verdi knew he had a major hit on his hands, if only for Act III’s opening aria, “La Donna e Mobile”. When Rigoletto made its debut in Venice, rehearsals were held in the tightest of secrecy for fear of the Duke’s aria being pirated. No matter. It’s been said the next day after the opera’s Venetian premiere, every gondolier could be heard throughout the city crooning the Duke’s ditty from the canals.

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Remembering Joe Green: The Life & Art of Giuseppe Verdi – Part I

Joe Green.

That’s how I first became familiar with the great composer, Giuseppe Verdi. I was in 2nd grade and my father was taking me on my first stroll through that vast, expansive world that is Classical Music. Knowing at the age of 8 I wasn’t quite ready to fully absorb or pronounce anything remotely resembling Italian, my father would animatedly say to me, “Giuseppe Verdi is another way of saying Joe Green.” He then proceeded to play me that popular Verdi hit used to sell anything from life insurance to car wax, The Anvil Chorus from “Il Trovatore” from Dad’s “Voice of Firestone” record collection. After becoming familiar with the tune, whenever the chorus of renegade gypsies broke into song in synch with their metallic hammers, my father would turn to me and say “Who wrote it?”

Joe Green. He wrote that and a whole lot more.

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