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The Verdi-Boito Correspondence

With an Introduction by Marcello Conati
English-language edition prepared by William Weaver
These 301 letters between Giuseppe Verdi and his last, most gifted librettist, Arrigo Boito, document an extraordinary chapter in musical history. Now available for the first time in English, this correspondence records both a unique friendship and its creative legacy.

This new edition of the landmark Carteggio Verdi/Boito is at once a valuable resource for all students, teachers, and scholars of opera and a fascinating glimpse of the daily life of European art and artists during the fertile last decades of the 19th century.

Embarking on a 20-year collaboration, Verdi and Boito produced a successful revision of Simon Boccanegra, and two new operas, Otello and Falstaff. They created what many consider to be Verdi’s greatest operas, thanks both to Boito’s poetry and to his handling of the composer. Here are the day-to-day tasks of creation: poet and composer debating problems of dramatic structure, words, phrases, and meters; altering dialogue as, at the same time, they converse about the wider worlds of art and music. The give and take of artistic creation is rendered fascinatingly.

This edition features a new introduction by Marcello Conati, improvements and updatings to the original edition, and an appendix of undated correspondence. William Weaver’s translation is characteristically pitch-perfect; he also provides a short closing sketch of Boito’s life after the death of his beloved maestro. Explanatory "linking texts" between the letters create a narrative.

384 pages | 14 halftones, music examples throughout, 6 x 9 | 6 x 9 | © 1994

Biography and Letters

Music: General Music


“Verdi, who had previously considered librettists good only for translating into verse dramatic outlines he had already created, learned to work with an equal; Boito was a superb poet, passionately devoted to the renewal of the musical theater, who had to be treated as a peer, not a subordinate. The letters, stuffed with fascinating detail, catch the two titans in the process of creating the revised Simon Boccanegra, then Otello and Falstaff; sections of text, structural and musical ideas, even production concepts fly back and forth between Milan and Sant’Agata. . . . A must-have for every music lover’s shelf.”


"Opera lovers will be pleased."

Publishers Weekly

“The letters are engrossing. . . . With or without transition, Verdi and Boito can shift mercurially from discussions of high art to commentary on the mundane. Woven into the fabric of life in nineteenth-century Italy are, among others, threads of politics, medicine, and labor unrest. . . . Fascinating.”

Opera Quarterly

Table of Contents

Preface by William Weaver
Introduction by Marcello Conati

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