Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) was without question the greatest Italian composer of the 19th century. The composer ofNabuccoRigolettoIl trovatoreLa traviataAïda and many other operas, Verdi had a great love for the theatre and a flair for drama. Constantly innovating, Verdi pushed opera in ever more insightful directions. His two final works, Otello and Falstaff, mark the high point of 19th-century Italian serious and comic opera respectively. Verdi was a keen supporter of the push for a united Italy and the plots of his operas were sometimes thought to be allegories for Italian political independence. Between 1861 and 1865 Verdi was a member of the first Italian parliament.

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