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Verdi's Shakespeare: Men of the Theater

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  59 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
A dazzling study of the operas Verdi adapted from Shakespeare- and a spellbinding account of their creation. In Verdi's Shakespeare, Pulitzer Prize winner and lifelong opera devotee Garry Wills explores the writing and staging of Verdi's three triumphant Shakespearian operas: Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff. An Italian composer who couldn't read a word of English but adore ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 13th 2011 by Viking
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Rachel C.
Garry Wills - I haven't read a book by him since freshman year, when our whole class was assigned "Lincoln at Gettysburg." (Which I thought was pretty dull, in case you're wondering.)

The subject of this book was infinitely more interesting to me - in theory, at least. Unfortunately, the treatment was bone dry and very academic. I found it difficult to follow the analysis even though I know Shakespeare's Macbeth and Othello quite well, and have seen both onstage as plays (multiple times each) an
Matt Good
May 03, 2015 Matt Good rated it really liked it
Wills exams two masters of their fields - arguably the two best to write in their field and influential years after their deaths. Verdi wrote three operas based on Shakespeare - Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff. Despite the plays having been written hundreds of years earlier and in a language he did not speak, Verdi loved Shakespeare's plays. Wills examines the Shakespeare based operas one-by-one, noting the circumstances under which Shakespeare and then Verdi wrote them. His thesis is, roughly, ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Spiros rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a cogent introduction to Verdi
Shelves: italy, borrowed
It's instructive to compare this book, in which Wills calmly and cogently examines the conditions in which three of Verdi's major operas were composed and performed, and the manner in which they reflected and diverged from their original source material in Shakespeare's Macbeth, Othello, and Merry Wives of Windsor, with the previous book I read, When That Rough God Goes Riding, in which Greil Marcus attempts to...well frankly, I'm still not sure what Marcus was trying to do, but it had something ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
Well, this is odd. I have read (or at least looked at the pages of) much of what Garry Wills lists in his brief bibliography for "Verdi's Shakespeare". The three volume "Operas of Verdi" by Julian Budden, check. All four volumes of the hoary "The Elizabethan Stage" by Chambers, on that shelf right over there. Both volumes of "Verdi's 'Otello' and 'Simon Boccanegra' in Letters and Documents", yep. Plus "The Verdi-Boito Correspondence", the usual stack of biographies: Mary Jane Phillips-Matz, ...more
Did not finish. It's really hard to read a book about opera that is not written by a musicologist. When a historian and "Verdi Enthusiast" starts writing a survey of three operas and their Shakespeare counterparts, and there is very little about the music, it can become very dry. Especially if you care more about the music than the libretto. All of the cultural history and the actual history of the operas' development from a Shakespeare play into the opera is interesting, but I needed....more. ...more
Apr 22, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating short review and appreciation of Verdi's three Shakespeare operas--Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff. It gives me much to consider and appreciate next week when I hear Riccardo Muti conduct soloists and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a concert version of Falstaff. Viva Verdi!
Dec 03, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
Well written and very interesting. I knew enough about Othello, MacBeth and Wives of Windsor to enjoy the book even though I haven't seen Verdi's operas.
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Garry Wills is an author and historian, and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. In 1993, he won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, which describes the background and effect of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.

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