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01High Noon20131007Donald Macleod explores Verdi's later life and music when, after years of honing his craft, he unleashed an outpouring of innovative masterworks that would propel opera from the world of the 19th century into the modern age. It wasn't a smooth road, though, and the aging composer had to be persuaded out of retirement several times as he found himself increasingly at odds with the world around him.

Having written 16 operas in 11 years at the height of his productivity, he then dedicated much of his time to accumulating and cultivating a huge estate, with the help of his second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi. Their relationship began in Paris, and while this was an intensely creative period during which Verdi composed some of his best-loved works - Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata - it was also a difficult time for him privately, the unmarried couple facing scandal when they moved back to the small Italian town of Bussetto.

02The Gentleman Farmer20131008Donald Macleod focuses on Verdi's activities in the 1860s.

(Donald Macleod explores Verdi's later life and music when, after years of honing his craft, he unleashed an outpouring of innovative masterworks that would propel opera from the world of the 19th century into the modern age. It wasn't a smooth road, though, and the aging composer had to be persuaded out of retirement several times as he found himself increasingly at odds with the world around him.)

Donald Macleod looks at Verdi's activities in the build-up to writing Aida, by which time he had become a major landowner. His life as a 'gentleman farmer' distracted him from composition - instead of writing music, he wrote to a friend, 'I only plant beans and cabbages'. In addition he tried his hand at a political career, had a mid-life crisis, and possibly an affair. But in the midst of all this he completed Aida for the opening of the Suez canal, and the eyes of the world were on him once more.

Donald Macleod focuses on Verdi's activities in the 1860s.

(Donald Macleod explores Verdi's later life and music when, after years of honing his craft, he unleashed an outpouring of innovative masterworks that would propel opera from the world of the 19th century into the modern age. It wasn't a smooth road, though, and the aging composer had to be persuaded out of retirement several times as he found himself increasingly at odds with the world around him.)

Donald Macleod looks at Verdi's activities in the build-up to writing Aida, by which time he had become a major landowner. His life as a 'gentleman farmer' distracted him from composition - instead of writing music, he wrote to a friend, 'I only plant beans and cabbages'. In addition he tried his hand at a political career, had a mid-life crisis, and possibly an affair. But in the midst of all this he completed Aida for the opening of the Suez canal, and the eyes of the world were on him once more.

03A New Generation20131009Donald Macleod on Verdi's relationship with the younger generation of Italian artists.

(Donald Macleod explores Verdi's later life and music when, after years of honing his craft, he unleashed an outpouring of innovative masterworks that would propel opera from the world of the 19th century into the modern age. It wasn't a smooth road, though, and the aging composer had to be persuaded out of retirement several times as he found himself increasingly at odds with the world around him.)

Donald Macleod examines the beginnings of Verdi's collaborative relationship with Arrigo Boito, a man almost 30 years his junior. It started badly - at a banquet at which both men were present, Boito called on 'young Italian Art' to throw off the shackles imposed by the 'old and cretinous'. Verdi took it as a personal insult, but they managed to recover from this and Boito would become the librettist of Verdi's final works.

Donald Macleod on Verdi's relationship with the younger generation of Italian artists.

(Donald Macleod explores Verdi's later life and music when, after years of honing his craft, he unleashed an outpouring of innovative masterworks that would propel opera from the world of the 19th century into the modern age. It wasn't a smooth road, though, and the aging composer had to be persuaded out of retirement several times as he found himself increasingly at odds with the world around him.)

Donald Macleod examines the beginnings of Verdi's collaborative relationship with Arrigo Boito, a man almost 30 years his junior. It started badly - at a banquet at which both men were present, Boito called on 'young Italian Art' to throw off the shackles imposed by the 'old and cretinous'. Verdi took it as a personal insult, but they managed to recover from this and Boito would become the librettist of Verdi's final works.

04Old Age20131010Donald Macleod explores the projects of Verdi's later years.

(Donald Macleod explores Verdi's later life and music when, after years of honing his craft, he unleashed an outpouring of innovative masterworks that would propel opera from the world of the 19th century into the modern age. It wasn't a smooth road, though, and the aging composer had to be persuaded out of retirement several times as he found himself increasingly at odds with the world around him.

Donald Macleod explores the rejuvenating influence on the aging Verdi of his librettist Arrigo Boito and his publisher Giulio Ricordi. The fruit of their collaboration was Otello, but two other projects also took up the composer's time in his seventies: the building of a hospital near his estate, and a musicians' rest home in Milan.

05 LASTWe're Still Here! Roll Up!20131011Donald Macleod focuses on Verdi's last opera, the comic masterpiece Falstaff.

(Donald Macleod explores Verdi's later life and music when, after years of honing his craft, he unleashed an outpouring of innovative masterworks that would propel opera from the world of the 19th century into the modern age. It wasn't a smooth road, though, and the ageing composer had to be persuaded out of retirement several times as he found himself increasingly at odds with the world around him.)

Donald Macleod looks at Verdi's last opera, the comic masterpiece Falstaff, written with the librettist Arrigo Boito, and completed in the composer's 80th year. Having lived through most of the 19th century, and revitalised Italian opera, Verdi died in 1901, with Boito at his side.