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Boccanegra’s Risorgimento

In response to:

The Pleasures of Charles Rosen from the May 24, 2012 issue

To the Editors:

Alastair Macauley’s insightful review of Charles Rosen’s collection Freedom and the Arts [NYR, May 24] makes one puzzling assertion: that Amonasro’s Act Three invocation to his daughter Aida’s conscience is “the last musical expression of the Risorgimento spirit of [Verdi’s] long career. Aida (1871) follows Simon Boccanegra (1857) on many lists of Verdi’s works; but in fact the composer returned to his somber, beloved Genoa-set work in the decade following Aida. The magnificent new Council Chamber Scene which he and librettist Arrigo Boito crafted for the revision—premiered in Milan in 1881—not only prefigured in tone their later triumph with Otello: it also placed in the mouth of the opera’s title hero Verdi’s most explicit and musically impassioned advocacy for a united Italy in which peace would bridge regional and class differences, the overwhelming ensemble, “Plebe! Patrizi!

David Shengold
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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