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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Research project: The Works of Giuseppe Verdi: A Critical Edition

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The Works of Giuseppe Verdi is an edition of Verdi’s music both rigorously faithful to authentic sources and suitable for performance. It aims to be an opera omnia, publishing all of Verdi’s music by 2040.  The project is currently about 50% complete. 

When Verdi completed the autograph orchestral manuscript of an opera, manuscript copies were made by the theater that commissioned the work or by his publisher (usually Casa Ricordi). These copies were used in performance, and most of the autograph scores became part of the Ricordi archives. Copies of the copies were made, and orchestral materials were extracted for performances. With the possible exception of his last operas, Otello and Falstaff, Verdi played no part whatever in preparing the printed scores: almost all printed editions of his works were prepared by Ricordi after Verdi’s death in 1901.

Predictably, these copying and printing practices have yielded vocal and orchestral parts that differ drastically from the autograph scores. Indeed, the problem of operas performed using unreliable parts and scores dates to Verdi’s own lifetime. After the premieres of Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata, for example, Verdi wrote to Ricordi on 24 October 1855: “I complain bitterly of the editions of my last operas, made with such little care, and filled with an infinite number of errors.”

The critical edition The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, co-published by The University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi, aims to rectify this state of affairs by providing accurate, reliable editions faithful to authorial intention as well as thoroughly accounting for creative process, authorial variants, and different versions of any work.

A very substantial website for this project already exists, hosted by The University of Chicago Press.

Associated research themes

Italian opera, textual criticism, critical editions.

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