Boito, Arrigo (Enrico)

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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.