Celebrating the Spirit of Verdi


The year 2013 marks the bicentennial of the birth of composer Giuseppe Verdi (October 10, 1813). Boston University's College of Fine Arts, School of Music, chose to focus on the works of Verdi for an entire year. To kick off this festival of Verdi, the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center prepared a major exhibition featuring both manuscript and photographic materials from a number of our individual collections dealing with Verdi, primarily in performance. The exhibition began with material from the collection of opera baritone, Tito Gobbi. An annotated score from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, with Gobbi in the title role, is paired with photographs of Gobbi in performance as Iago in a variety of productions of Otello: at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a production in Hamburg, Germany, and at Covent Garden in London.

The exhibition continued with material from the collection of soprano Phyllis Curtin. There were a number of photographs of Ms. Curtin in various productions of La Traviata as Violetta, taken by her husband, LIFE magazine photographer Eugene Cooke, as well as her extensively annotated score for La Traviata and an annotated score for Verdi's Requiem with her complete performance history of the piece from 1952 - 1975. From the collection of tenor James McCracken come photographs from a 1979 Dallas Civic Opera production of Aida, with McCracken as Radames playing opposite Marilyn Horne in the title role. Another photograph shows McCracken with his wife, Sandra Warfield McCracken, in a production of La Traviata, as well as a performance photograph of McCracken as Otello.

From Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston came two photographs of Beverly Sills as Gilda in a 1977 production of Rigoletto; and from musicologist Charles Reid came the tear sheets from a May 1966 Records and Recording magazine article entitled, "Birth of a Recording." Shown with it were Reid's original notes from his interview with conductor Leonard Bernstein.

The exhibition concluded with photographs of soprano Martina Arroyo in the title role of Aida, as well as photographs from two different stagings of I Vespri Sicilliani in Paris and Buenos Aires in the 1970s. Paired with Arroyo are model photographs, set and costume designs for productions of Otello and Aida, both directed by Francesca Zambello in 1999.

This exhbition is no longer on view.

Alan Cumming
Celebrating the Spirit of Verdi