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Verdi and Verdi!
©2012 by John Axelrod


While Verdi's 200th anniversary is not till 2013, my focus on Italy has already begun, not only due to my work as Principal Conductor of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano "Giuseppe Verdi", aka LaVerdi, but also because I enjoy being in this golden paradise of wine and music.  So do many other conductors, from  Barenboim to Muti to Abbado to Mehta, who maintain posts in Italia while they grace the podiums of other major capitals.  The Italian orchestras have nurtured and inspired the great conductors of the past and continue to do so today.  Who else can give us all this musical inspiration but Verdi himself.  Before we raise a glass to Giuseppe Verdi in gratitude,  let's look at how that glass has been so inspiringly used by the maestro and other composers.

Indeed, alcohol and opera seem inextricably linked.  From die Fledermaus to Don Giovanni to even the Bartered Bride, (and many others), wine, champagne, and beer are often featured in the libretto as if alcohol is a necessary prop to justify the events of the plot.

The Brindisi, "Libiamo ne' leiti calici", from la Traviata, premiered in Venice in 1853, is a tribute to the great pastime of social drinking.  It is a paean to the party lifestyle of our tragic heroine.  In Rigoletto,  Verdi suggests the duke of mantua sings " la Donna e mobile" with glass in hand. The anvil chorus from Il Trovatore applauds the benefits of hard work, good wine and gypsy women. Verdi may have also noted that "Tutto nel mondo è burla" in the finale of Falstaff, but perhaps everyone is simply a bit tipsy, in on the joke, and enjoying the lighter side of life. Who knows if the sober Verdi was indeed a boozer, but he no doubt enjoyed the wine delights from his native Emilia Romagna or adopted Lombardy.

So it's natural that with wine being central to Verdi's work that there should be a wine dedicated to Verdi.  And, voila, there is.  Verdi wine is a white sparkling wine with a slight green hue.  Hence, Verdi-green.  With a 12% alcohol content, it won't make your head as heavy as John Falstaff's belly.  And at a price under 10€, this Spumante is less than the cost of a ticket to hear the opera.  Unless you picnic en plein air.  With summer fast approaching, it can be a perfect accompaniment to a Waldbuhne concert or aria evening in Schleswig Holstein.  Especially if Verdi is on the program.

But the best thing about Verdi Spumante is that this light bubbly is meant for one purpose: To bring a smile to the face and warmth in the heart, just as la Traviata does with it's   Libiamo which says it best:

Be happy.  Wine and song bring both laughter and beauty to the night.
Let the new day find us in paradise.

I'll drink to that!