Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Wonyong Cho



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts





Committee Chair

Randal Rushing

Committee Member

Kenneth Kreitner

Committee Member

John Baur

Committee Member

Pamela Gaston


Giuseppe Verdi was an opera composer who revolutionized the Italian opera with his approach to drama. Even from the beginning of his career, his commitment to drama was strong and it became even stronger as his craft as an opera composer matured. He wanted his operas to be “musico-drama” (music drama) where music is one with the drama and they enhance each other. In order to strengthen the dramatic merits of his operas, he was very selective in choosing his subject matters, librettists, and voices. When he saw the need to change the plot to enhance the drama in his operas, he often pressured the librettists to yield to his will and vision. His efforts to create “musico-drama” reached every aspect of his operas and he was not afraid to think outside the box. The Italian opera composers who preceded Verdi placed dramatic importance only on the soprano and tenor voices. However, Verdi extended his reach to the baritone and bass voices in order to provide the emotional depth and complexity of his drama. He would often shift the gravity of the roles from the tenors to baritones or even basses when he saw the need for dramatic strength. Bass voice during the bel Canto era only played dramatically supporting roles in opera. Its character was one-dimensional and did not evolve during the course of the opera. In a few operas, Verdi chose the bass voice to play multi-dimensional characters with emotional and psychological depth. The result was bass roles with dramatic complexity unseen since in Italian opera seria since the time of Mozart. This dissertation will prove that Verdi achieved the dramatic evolution for bass voice and will discuss three operas—Nabucco, Attila, and Don Carlo— and a bass role in each opera—Zaccaria, Attila, Filippo—to demonstrate how he accomplished it.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.