Abitare la battaglia, Gabriele Baldini's study of the operas of Verdi from Oberto to Un ballo in maschera, has, since its posthumous publication in 1970, received much critical acclaim both in Italy and elsewhere. Its lack of technical language makes it easily accessible to the general music lover, but its original and sometimes controversial ideas have stimulated a great deal of discussion among Verdi specialists. The book's central concern is to present an analysis of Verdi the musical dramatist, and its conclusions constitute a radical reassessment of the vexed relationship between opera and literary form, between words and music. As Julian Budden says in his Foreword: 'It blows a breath of fresh air into the weary platitudes of traditional Verdian criticism.'
This English translation, The Story of Giuseppe Verdi, includes some new editorial additions, bringing various factual matters into line with recent Verdi scholarship. But the book's discussion of the music is always left to speak for itself. While many of the comments may offend the purists, they are always based on a profound knowledge and love of Verdi's operatic masterpieces as seen on the stage. They rarely fail to stimulate the reader into thinking more deeply about this immensely rich repertoire.
' ... a stimulating and controversial picture of Verdi, which will be impossible to ignore from now onwards whenever we consider the operas from Oberto to La forza del destino.' Massimo Mila in La Stampa ' ... a decidedly positive, remarkably important contribution to the ever widening field of Verdi studies.' Gian Paolo Minardi in Rivista Italiana di Musicologia