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The Genius of Verdi with Rolando Villazón

Sun May 10, 7.30-8.30pm, BBC4

Giuseppe Verdi’s marriage of technical brilliance and popular appeal was by no means unique in classical opera. But his turbulent times brought out his fearless nature: his music took risks, but so too did his subject matter as he cocked a snook at convention.

Theatrical milestones such as ‘La Traviata’ acted as thinly disguised critiques of the establishment against which Verdi used to chafe, and he became a figurehead for the Italian unification (and eventually an MP in the new Italian state). The balance of music to character in ‘The Genius…’ is tipped in favour of the former, and there’s a sense of preaching to the converted here. But the excitable tenor Villazón works his socks off to engage the attention – you’ll seldom have heard ‘r’s rolled with such a flourrrrish.



It's on Friday, rather than Sunday...