Arrigo Boito

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Boito, Arrigo [Enrico] (b Padua, 1842; d Milan, 1918). It. composer and poet, son of It. painter and Polish countess. Fame chiefly rests on superb libs. for Verdi's last operas, Otello (1886) and Falstaff (1893). Studied mus. in Milan with Mazzucato, and went to Paris on a government travelling scholarship, 1862, with Faccio. Met Hugo, Berlioz, Verdi, and Rossini there. First collab. with Verdi in 1862 on The Hymn of the Nations, after which there was coolness between them until he rev. the existing lib. of Simon Boccanegra in 1880–1. Returning to It., espoused cause of mus. reform and redress of neglect of Ger. classics. Comp. opera Mefistofele 1866–7. F.p. in Milan 1868 was attended by much publicity about its revolutionary nature; this led to a riot in La Scala between traditionalists and reformers and eventually to the opera's withdrawal on police orders. Rev. version, perf. Bologna 1875, was acclaimed. Wrote libs. for Faccio's Amleto (1865), Catalani's La Falce (1875), and Ponchielli's La Gioconda (1876, under the anagrammatic pseudonym Tobia Gorrio). Also trans. into It. the texts of Beethoven's 9th Sym. and Wagner's Rienzi and Tristan. Only other pubd. opera, Nerone, was begun in 1877 and left unfinished. Completed and rev. by Toscanini, Smareglia, and Tommasini, and prod. Milan 1924. Received hon. doctorates of mus. from both Cambridge and Oxford and was dir., Parma Cons. 1889–97. Correspondence with Verdi is of great interest.

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Arrigo Boito (ärrē´go bô´ētō), 1842–1918, Italian composer and librettist. His opera Mefistofele (1868, rev. 1875), influenced by Wagner's music-drama, helped to bring about a new dramatic style in Italian opera. Its first performance, at La Scala, Milan, caused a riot, but it subsequently became very popular. Another opera, Nerone, was posthumously finished and produced by Toscanini in 1924. Many consider Boito's masterpieces to be the librettos for Verdi's Otello and Falstaff. He also was librettist for Ponchielli's La Gioconda and wrote novels and poems.