Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio – Overture
(instr: M. Bartolucci)

Giuseppe Verdi, whose 200th birth anniversary is being commemorated worldwide this year, made his operatic debut with Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala in 1839. This 2-act opera was a quite a success, opening the avenues of an eventual great career for the young composer. With a libretto by Temistocle Solera, the story, set in medieval northern Italy, deals with love, infidelity, honour, and revenge – themes which recurred in the Italian opera librettos of the early 19th century.

Also typical of the Italian operatic genre of the period, Oberto opens with an orchestral overture – which Verdi discarded many times later on in his career opting for a shorter prelude or else plunging himself and the audience straight into the thick of things with the immediate opening of the curtain.  While Oberto’s overture is not comparable in depth or grandiosity to Verdi’s subsequent great overtures, it is still very indicative of the heights Verdi was to achieve. Thus rhythmic incisiveness, brilliance and lyricism are all present; indeed, an opening rather short slow cantabile is followed by a quite extensive quick section, itself divisible in 3 parts.