Intelligence² Debate Verdi vs Wagner - a 200th birthday debatehosted by Stephen Fry (curator of this year's Deloitte Ignite).
Think opera and you think Verdi. More than any other composer, his works define the form, from the high romantic tragedy of 'La traviata' and 'Rigoletto 'to the grand Biblical-historical vision of 'Nabucco' and 'Aida'.
His eternal arias – 'La donna è mobile', 'Libiamo ne' lieti calici' and the 'Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves' – transcend the formal barriers between high and low culture. They stand alone as the greatest songs in history, streaming out of the opera house doors and into the football stadiums, the charts and the popular mind. Verdi didn’t just unite the high and low-brow; he was also the outstanding cultural unifier at the birth of a nation, the musical father of the Risorgimento. Who needs Wagner when Verdi offers such richness?