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.
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).”
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