Verdi, Giuseppe – I due Foscari, lyric tragedy in three acts (Vocal score with Italian libretto)
For more information about the piece read the preface of the full score:
Lyric tragedy in three acts
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after Lord Byron
In 1844 Verdi, riding high on the huge success of his earlier Nabucco (1842), I Lombardi (1843), and especially Ernani (1844), found himself inundated with offers from Italian theaters and contractually obligated to provide a new work for the Teatro Argentina in Rome. Turning to his trusty librettist Piave, he proposed two subjects from Italian Renaissance history – Lorenzino de’ Medici on a Florentine murder plot, and I due Foscari, a political drama set in Venice – and asked Piave to clear matters with the Roman censors. The first proposal was immediately dismissed by the Roman police: a tyrannicide decked out as a freedom fighter was not to be countenanced in the Papal States of pre-unified Italy. The Foscari material, though spurned as anti-Venetian in 1843 when Verdi proposed it to La Fenice, met with no objections from the Roman censors. So I due Foscari it was.
The eponymous “two Foscari” were in fact powerful historical figures dating from the zenith of the Venetian Republic. Francesco Foscari (1373-1457) served as the republic’s Doge from 1423 to 1457, during which time he oversaw its transition from a naval power to an expansionist force on the Italian mainland. A career diplomat raised in Egypt, he achieved signal victories over Venice’s arch-enemies Florence and Milan, mainly through the efforts of the great mercenary general Carmagnola (who makes a stunning appearance as a hallucination in Verdi’s opera). In his election as Doge he outmaneuvered his nemesis Pietro Loredan, who thereupon became a lifelong enemy and, at his death, bequeathed his hatred to his son Giacomo (1396-1471), the vengeful “Loredano” of Verdi’s opera. Francesco Foscari’s son Jacopo was tried in 1445 for bribery and corruption, condemned, and sentenced to exile. In an attempt to exonerate him he was again tried in 1450 and 1456, each time unsuccessfully. At the latter he was exiled to Crete, where he died a short while later. The deeply saddened Francesco withdrew from his duties as Doge and was forced to abdicate in 1457. He died one week later, hated by his enemies but deeply lamented by the Venetian populace. …
Read English and German preface of the full score > HERE