Edmonton Verdi Festival Newsletter, Issue 1, April, 2013

Professor Philip Gossett to Come to Edmonton

The Edmonton Verdi Festival is pleased to announce that Professor Philip Gossett will be coming to Edmonton to talk about his research on Giuseppe Verdi for the "20 Regions of Italy Extravaganza" from November 1-3 at the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre. You will want to attend his lectures to experience first-hand his remarkable knowledge of our favourite opera composer. The two articles that follow provide information about Professor Gossett's contributions to Verdi and opera scholarship.

Article: "Opera scholar salvages long-lost Italian masterpiece"

By Brooke O'Neill, AM'04
Photo by Dan Dry

Were it not for Chicago musicologist Philip Gossett, a long-forgotten opera titled Stiffelio might have been lost forever.

Giuseppe Verdi wrote the tale of religion and sex in 1850, and immediately it prompted heavy censorship from Roman Catholic authorities who objected to its themes of adultery and divorce. In 1856, after a few tortured revivals, the infuriated Verdi withdrew the opera from circulation entirely. Never again, he said, would the piece be heard.


Philip Gossett

Philip Gossett, Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Music and the College, University of Chicago

Philip Gossett is one of the world's foremost experts on opera. A music historian, Gossett specializes in 19th-century Italian opera, specifically the works of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. Author of two books on Donizetti and of the recent Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera (University of Chicago Press, 2006), Gossett serves as general editor of The Works of Giuseppe Verdi and of The Critical Edition of the Works of Gioachino Rossini.

Among the operas he himself has edited or co-edited are Rossini's Tancredi, Ermione and Semiramide. He is currently working on Verdi's La forza del Destino. In 1998 the Italian government awarded him its highest civilian honor, Cavaliere di Gran Croce. He most recently won the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award, an honor that carries with it a prize of $1.5 million. Early in 2004, Newsday wrote of Gossett that "some encomiasts claim that soprano Maria Callas did as much for Italian opera as Toscanini or Verdi. Musicologist Philip Gossett arguably has done as much for Italian opera as any of those geniuses."

Acknowledgement: The Edmonton Verdi Festival would like to express its thanks to author Brook O'Neill and the University of Chicago News for permission to reprint this article.

Article: "University Press awards Gossett's Divas and Scholars"

By Josh Schonwald
News Office
May 1, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 15


Zimmer (left to right) joins Gordon J. Laing Prize recipient Philip Gossett and Garrett KielyPhoto by Lloyd DeGrane

President Zimmer (left to right) joins Gordon J. Laing Prize recipient Philip Gossett and Garrett Kiely, Director of the University Press, at an award dinner held in Gossett's honor.



At the University Press' annual award ceremony on Thursday, April 24, President Zimmer presented the 2008 Gordon J. Laing Prize to Philip Gossett for his 2006 book, Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera. Gossett's book has been widely lauded for its dazzling account of how opera comes to the stage.

The Gordon J. Laing Prize has been awarded annually since 1963 to a University author, editor or translator of a book published during the preceding three years that adds the greatest distinction to the University Press. It is named for Laing, who served as the Press' general editor for more than 30 years and established its reputation as the premier academic publisher in the United States.

Gossett, the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor in Music and the College, is the world's leading authority on 19th-century Italian opera - specifically the works of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. In Divas and Scholars, he weaves his own personal experiences of triumphant - and even failed - performances, and his perspectives as a fan, musician and scholar. The book brings colorfully to life the problems and the occasional scandals that attend the production of some of the world's best-known operas.


Acknowledgement: The Edmonton Verdi Festival would like to express its thanks to author Josh Schonwald and the University of Chicago Chronicle for permission to cite this article.

The Parallel Lives of Verdi and Wagner

The Parallel Lives of Verdi and Wagner Wagner (left) and Verdi: The lives of two great and greatly different geniuses; graphic from here

By Peter McKenzie-Brown

Born a few months apart in 1813, German composer Richard Wagner (May 22) and Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi (October 9) were the greatest operatic composers of all time. They tower above all others except Mozart, whose output of great operas was unfortunately small.

Musically the two men were leagues apart, yet their lives and times were strangely parallel. They represented two powerful cultures. Italian culture had roots that drew from the traditions of Rome, the Catholic Church and the Renaissance; its cultural identity was well established. In the area of opera - its most popular musical entertainment - the emerging state sought perfection. In time, Verdi provided it.

Acknowledgement: Reprinted with the permission of the author.

About the author:

Peter McKenzie-Brown
Peter McKenzie-BrownI have worked in the corporate, consulting, academic and not-for-profit sectors. My career includes 25 years with the Canadian oil and gas industry, and I've worked and studied in North America, Asia and Europe. I developed a writing and consulting practice in the 1990s, and am the author or co-author of four books - three on business history and one on language learning. A member of Rotary, I have been active in international development projects since 2004.

Newsflash - Emilio De Mercato returns from a whirlwind performance in Italy

Emilio De Mercato, pianist and Edmonton Verdi Festival Artistic Director, returned from a rigorous performance schedule in Italy on Friday, March 22nd. He emailed Committee members: "In Italy, all went very well." The first of three concerts was dedicated to Verdi and Wagner in tribute to their joint anniversaries. We performed the "Va Pensioro" chorus from Nabucco and also "Brindisi" from La Traviata. The other two concerts were in Milan and Varese. I performed as a part of a duo with a talented young cellist - Luca Colardo. Colardo has transcribed the "Prelude" from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde that I would like to perhaps play at one of the Verdi Festival performances. In the first half of the concert we performed the Wagner and the Sonata by Franck. In the second half, we played the Rachmaninoff Sonata op.19 (four movements). Luca Colardo is willing to write a transcription of Wagner for piano trio or piano quintet, that we may perform at the Appuntamenti Musicali Verdiani in June."

De Mercato did make time to see his family and enjoy his mother's cooking. Welcome back, Emilio!

View the video from the second half of the concert performed in Milan on March 18th for the Societ dei Concerti.

Newsflash - The Vaughan String Quartet to perform Verdi String Quartet at the Edmonton Verdi Festival

The Vaughan String Quartet was founded in 2013 in Edmonton and comprises Vladimir Rufino (First Violin), Mattia Berrini (Second Violin), Fabiola Amorim (Viola) and Silvia Buttiglione (Cello). At the suggestion of Verdi Festival Artistic Committee members Berrini and Buttiglione, the group will be performing the Verdi String Quartet at one of the Festival's performances. The Wikipedia entry observes:

Verdi's production of Aida in early March, 1873 was delayed due to the sudden illness of soprano Teresa Stolz. Verdi focused his time in Naples on the writing of his first chamber work, String Quartet in E minor. The work was premiered two days after the opening of Aida during an informal recital at his hotel on April 1, 1873. The names of the original performers survive only as Pinto brothers, violins, Salvadore, viola, and Giarritiello, cello.

Verdi commented on the work, saying "I've written a Quartet in my leisure moments in Naples. I had it performed one evening in my house, without attaching the least importance to it and without inviting anyone in particular. Only the seven or eight persons who usually come to visit me were present. I don't know whether the Quartet is beautiful or ugly, but I do know that it's a Quartet!"

Despite Verdi's humble words, his String Quartet in E minor is valued among the great classical chamber works of the 19th century[citation needed]. It also exists in a version for string orchestra. [retrieved March 24, 2013]

The Quartet performed on Sunday, March 24th at Robertson-Wesley United Church in Edmonton Mozart's String Quartet in G Major K. 387 and Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 18, No. 1.

Concert preview: New Edmonton string quartet debuts (with video)

Vaughan Quartet made up of two musician couples

By Mark Morris, Edmonton Journal March 21, 2013

EDMONTON - For many classical music lovers, the art of the string quartet is the epitome of music-making. Virtually every major composer since the 18th century has written quartets, and many continue to do so.

It is a vehicle for a composer's most personal and intimate thoughts, and makes great demands on the performers. They need a special kind of rapport and understanding of each other's playing. You can't just throw four string players together and hope it comes off.

Dedicated quartets are therefore few and far between, and Edmonton now has a new one: the Vaughan String Quartet, named after the English composer Vaughan Williams, but pronounced (in the Portuguese way) "vo-han."

One of the remarkable things about this new quartet is that it is comprised of a pair of husbands and wives. I can think of well-known quartets with brothers in them, and quartets whose members are all from the same family, but I have never heard of one consisting of two couples.

Vladimir Rufino (violin I) and his violist wife Fabiola Amorim come from Brazil. They spent five years studying in Los Angeles, where they played in the Villa Lobos Quartet. Last year, they arrived at the University of Alberta to do their performance doctorates.

Acknowledgement: The Edmonton Verdi Festival would like to express its thanks to author Mark Morris and The Edmonton Journal for permission to cite this article.

Newsflash - Edmonton Verdi Festival to hold Auditions


Sunday, April 14th 2013, 2:30 pm
Alberta College Conservatory of Music, MacEwan University Room 409 (4th floor)

Audition program:

One or more operatic works by Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, Gioacchino Rossini, or other Italian Opera Composer.

How to apply:

You can apply for the audition sending an email with your resume and the chosen repertoire for the audition to the following address: demercato@yahoo.it

Write in your email if you will have your pianist for the audition or if you need the Edmonton Verdi Festival to provide a pianist for your audition.

Application deadline is April 7th, 2013.


In order to boost your participation to the auditions, there will not be an admission fee.


The selected singers by the jury, will receive the opportunity of an engagement for performing at one of the events of the Edmonton Verdi Festival (June-October 2013).

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