Pictures / Videos
Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)
Concert version, at the Berliner Philharmonie
Opera in a prolouge and two acts
Libretto by Temistocle Solera and Francesco Maria Piave after Zacharias Werner
First performed on 17. March, 1846 at Venice
Premiered at the Berliner Philharmonie on 19. June, 2013
In Italian language with German surtitles
In his life-long quest for "grand, fresh, beautiful, bold, exciting material" Giuseppe Verdi also turned to the plays of the German Romantics, and four times he lighted on Schiller. He was also briefly taken by Grillparzer's sombre drama "The Ancestress", which had attracted the attention of Beethoven before him. Like Beethoven, Verdi was drawn to Zacharias Werner, the forgotten inventor of the 'fate drama', and his "Attila, King of the Huns", although it was the mysticism, the imaginary, the dreaminess, rather than the fate aspect, which attracted him. The political element, too, was of interest to Verdi: Werner drew parallels between Attila and Napoleon without looking too closely at the historical facts. The work's finest stroke of audacity is the imaginary encounter at the end of the first act between Attila and Pope Leo, the character referred to in the dramatis personae as "Leone, an ancient Roman". In a dream scene Attila has a vision of the Romans' unbending resistance, and when his foreboding is borne out giant figures appear in his mind's eye, brandishing flaming swords.
The libretto suffered somewhat from the hasty penmanship of Verdi's two principle collaborators, Francesco Maria Piave and Temistocle Solera. Nonetheless, from poison vials to the antihero's death by sword at the hands of a woman, the work contains all the ingredients that an Italian dramma lirico of the time could be expected to offer - an endless source of material for musical development.
18:45: Introduction in German language at the "Südfoyer"