Verdi and Victoria

Opera Prelude: Verdi and Victoria – Two of a Kind

Tuesday 29 October 2019, 10:30

Venue: Caversham Room

Past Event
Opera Prelude: Verdi and Victoria – Two of a Kind Past Event


Daniel Snowman and Opera Prelude’s young artists

Daniel Snowman, author, broadcaster and lecturer joins Opera Prelude’s young artists for this morning’s lecture recital about Queen Victoria’s love of opera and of the many parallels between her own life and interests and those of the greatest Italian opera composer of her day, Giuseppe Verdi.

Queen Victoria and Giuseppe Verdi died within a week of each other in January 1901, two octogenarians widely revered as the embodiments of their respective nations. They had much in common. Victoria loved Italian opera (her diaries and sketchbooks are packed with it), while Verdi cared deeply about politics, visited England three times and was a Deputy in the first all-Italian Parliament. Both achieved early celebrity, suffered devastating bereavements, ‘retired’ from public gaze in mid-life and became national treasures again in old age. Drawing on a rich multiplicity of historical images and musical excerpts, Daniel Snowman introduces the overlapping operatic worlds of the two Vs against a background of the wider cultural history of their respective nations.

Daniel Snowman is a social and cultural historian. He was born in London, educated at Cambridge and Cornell, and at 24 was a Lecturer at the University of Sussex. For many years, he worked at the BBC where he was responsible for a wide variety of radio series on cultural and historical topics. Since 2004, Daniel has held a Senior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research (University of London) for whom he has given lectures, organised and chaired both academic and public Seminars and recorded a succession of interviews with leading fellow historians.

A long-time member of the London Philharmonic Choir (1967–2015), he has always had a strong and informed interest in music and musicians, his books on the Amadeus Quartet and Plácido Domingo combining close-up portraiture of the artists concerned with the broader brush of the social historian. Recent books include a study of the cultural impact of the ‘Hitler Emigrés’, a collection of critical essays on the life and work of today’s leading historians, and a brief biography of Verdi. Daniel’s 2009 book The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera has been published throughout the English-speaking world and is now available in Italian, Spanish and Chinese and is currently planned to appear in a number of other languages.

Duration: approx. 2 hours

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