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Inaugural Lecture - Professor Francesco Izzo

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Avenue Campus

University of Southampton

Highfield Road

Southampton

SO17 1BF

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You are cordially invited to the Inaugural Lecture of Professor Francesco Izzo, Professor of Music.

Old age matters: Ageing and the elderly in the Operas of Giuseppe Verdi

In early nineteenth-century Italian opera, characters explicitly described as old are mostly a prerogative of comedy. In serious melodramma, the advanced age of some characters may be inferred by virtue of their role (father and grandfather, pastor), but only rarely is it explicitly stated, verbally or visually. In Verdi’s operas, conversely, old age emerges as a fundamental concern—one that is referred to explicitly and frequently in passages of poetry and other verbal indicators (such as cast pages and stage directions).

In this lecture I explore the theme of old age in Verdi’s operas from 1839 to 1867, drawing on Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, Nabucco, I lombardi alla prima crociata, Ernani, I due Foscari, Rigoletto, La traviata, and Don Carlos. In so doing, I identify instances where the depiction of old age seems to express a continuum with established topoi and stereotypes (such as fatherhood and metaphors of family honor), and others where age is treated more subtly—its physical connotations reflecting psychological developments in response to external circumstances. The discussion draws on close reading of verbal and musical texts, as well as on visual evidence and other materials.

In closing, I map the depiction of aging characters in Verdi’s work onto changing constructions of old age in the mid-nineteenth century. The use and treatment of subject matter involving old age reveals a novel centrality of this theme from the outset of Verdi’s career, calling for a careful consideration of age as a topic of great importance in mid-nineteenth-century opera.

This lecture will be chaired by Professor Mark Everist, Professor of Music.

Each of the Inaugural Lectures in Humanities will have an end of lecture collection for the speaker's nominated charity. For his lecture Professor Izzo has chosen to support Age UK.

Please note the booking deadline for this event is 6pm on Monday 8 January 2018.

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Avenue Campus

University of Southampton

Highfield Road

Southampton

SO17 1BF

United Kingdom

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