Librettist Profile: Francesca Maria Piave, Verdi’s Right-Hand Man

Piave wrote 10 libretti for Verdi, but 32 other ones for a wide range of different composers.

Librettist often get overlooked in the opera world. A lot of it has to do with the perception of opera plots, in many cases, being lesser than the quality of the music attached to them. And the result is that the composer gets the credit for the work.

This is what happened with Francesco Maria Piave. We don’t know “La Traviata” as Piave and Verdi’s “La Traviata,” but simply as Verdi’s “La Traviata.

Piave, born on May 18, 1810, was a successful librettist in his day, working for a ton of composers. Interestingly his career did not start out in the world of opera, Piave working as a journalist and translator and being a poet.

His first libretto was “Il Duca d’Alba” for Giovanni Pacini; he wrote it in 1842. The final libretto he wrote came 30 years later; it was “Olema” for composer Carlo Pedrotti. In sum, he wrote over 40 libretti throughout his career.

Major Works

Piave wrote a plethora of libretti for a wide range of composers, but his collaboration with Giuseppe Verdi is the reason we remember his name today. He collaborated on 12 operas in total with Verdi and his most famous are undoubtedly “Rigoletto” and “La Traviata.”

Other operas he wrote for Verdi include “Ernani (their first collaboration),” “Atilla,” the first version of “Macbeth,” “Il Corsaro,” “Stiffelio,” the first version of “Simon Boccanegra,” “Aroldo,” the first version of “La Forza del Destino,” and the second version of “Macbeth (their final collaboration together).”

Read More on Piave

Learn more about Piave’s non-Verdi libretto



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About the Author

David Salazar
Prior to creating OperaWire, DAVID SALAZAR, (Editor-in-Chief) worked as a reporter for Latin Post where he interviewed major opera stars including Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Vittorio Grigolo, Diana Damrau and Rolando Villazon among others. His 2014 interview with opera star Kristine Opolais was cited in a New York Times Review. He also had the opportunity of interviewing numerous Oscar nominees, Golden Globe winners and film industry giants such as Guillermo del Toro, Oscar Isaac and John Leguizamo among others. David holds a Masters in Media Management from Fordham University. During his time at Fordham, he studied abroad at the Jagiellonian University in Poland. He also holds a dual bachelor’s from Hofstra University in Film Production and Journalism.

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