The Verdi Baritone


Hardcover Edition

Paperback Edition

This Amazon “bestseller in Verdi”

     is featured in study guides

          and recommended reading lists

               by the Metropolitan Opera,

                    Teatro alla Scala,

                         Teatro La Fenice,

                              and THE NEW GROVE

                                   COMPOSERS SERIES:

                                        VERDI AND HIS OPERAS.

One of the most significant innovations in the development of dramatic characterization in nineteenth-century Italian opera was the genesis of the Verdi baritone.  As Geoffrey Edwards and Ryan Edwards argue, the composer’s baritone characters embody “a quintessential humanity, expressing needs and temptations, confusions and understandings, griefs

and joys that transcend the particulars of time and place.”

THE VERDI BARITONE explores seven of the most fascinating roles in

the repertory, revealing how they were conceived and executed.  This

unique and eloquent book opens with a discussion of Verdi’s early triumph, NABUCCO; proceeds with ERNANI, MACBETH, RIGOLETTO,

LA TRAVIATA, and SIMON BOCCANEGRA; then concludes with his final great tragedy, OTELLO.  Voice students, professional performers, teachers, coaches, and opera lovers alike will gain insight into Verdi’s masterful use of text, music, and staging to portray each character’s inner self.

Reviews and Recommendations

“Singing actors delight when a well-written, practical, and carefully documented source for character development assists their research.  A new contribution from Geoffrey Edwards and Ryan Edwards provides keen insights into seven Verdi baritone roles.  The authors write with authority:  Ryan Edwards, for many years a leading baritone with the Metropolitan Opera, achieved acclaim for his portrayals of Verdi’s heroic and villainous characters.  Geoffrey Edwards,

a scholar of theatre history, has award-winning experience as a stage director of opera and drama.  The combined and complementary insights of performer and director lend special credence to the study of the Verdi baritone.

“The resources brought to this work are substantial.  The operas of Verdi certainly suffer from no lack of scholarly attention.  Rather than joining a long list of garden variety books on the subject, THE VERDI BARITONE offers a unique, and uniquely qualified, discourse on a much too often overlooked aspect of the operas.”


“THE VERDI BARITONE, a thoughtful, perceptive collection, should be required reading for directors, conductors, vocal coaches, and baritones preparing to sing these roles.”

OPERA JOURNAL (reviewing the paperback edition)

“Giuseppe Verdi focused his unique genius on the roles played by baritones, exploiting a higher tessitura to enhance dramatic tension and creating characterizations of great depth, subtlety, and detail.  Geoffrey Edwards and Ryan Edwards have joined their rich talents and experience in analyzing and communicating just how profoundly well drawn these baritone characters are.  The authors are particularly careful to compare the interpretations of Verdi and his librettists with the original literary works that inspired them.  The result is a series of beautifully written and carefully argued monographs on baritone roles from NABUCCO, ERNANI, MACBETH, RIGOLETTO, LA TRAVIATA, SIMON BOCCANEGRA, and OTELLO.  Substantial musical examples appear throughout.  Plot synopses, selected bibliography, and endnotes are included.  Recommended for general readers and every academic level.”

CHOICE (American Library Association)

“Each essay is an eloquent exploration, filled with perceptive musical and dramatic insights.  The introductory material of each section contains valuable information comparing the original play with the libretto, often shedding considerable light on composer-librettist collaborations and the dramatic inventions of each.  Wonderful psychological profiles reveal a depth of understanding seldom encountered among books on operatic subjects.  These profiles focus principally on the baritone roles, but other characters are of necessity illumined in the process.  Impressive scholarship is manifest throughout, but especially in the extensive endnotes, many of which contain important and largely inaccessible information, such as reviews of premiere performances and instructions from nineteenth-century promptbooks.

“Geoffrey Edwards is an award-winning author and both operatic and stage director; Ryan Edwards is a performer with the Metropolitan Opera who has won international acclaim for his vocal and dramatic interpretations of the Verdi baritone repertory.  Their combined efforts have produced a volume that is a delight in every sense of the word, so elegantly written as to become periodically poetic.  From the professional performer to the opera aficionado, every reader will gain unexpected insights into Verdi’s dramatic and musical genius.  THE VERDI BARITONE is a vitally important and necessary contribution to the literature.”


Featured in “Using MACBETH to Teach Humanities,” Metropolitan Opera International Radio

          Broadcast Information Center, New York.

Featured in “Using ERNANI to Teach Humanities,” Metropolitan Opera International Radio

          Broadcast Information Center, New York.

Featured in “Using SIMON BOCCANEGRA to Teach Humanities,” Metropolitan Opera

          International Radio Broadcast Information Center, New York.

Listed in “Bibliografia Essenziale su Verdi e RIGOLETTO,” Teatro alla Scala, Milan.

Listed in “Bibliografia Essenziale: RIGOLETTO,” Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, Venice.

Listed in “Bibliographie: Literatur, Lektüre, Verlage, Klassik CD/DVD Fachhandel,” Internationale

          Giuseppe Verdi Stiftung, Munich.

Featured in LA TRAVIATA: AN IN-DEPTH GUIDE, Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

Listed in “Giuseppe Verdi Media: Books,” Arizona Opera, Phoenix.

Listed in LA TRAVIATA: A STUDY GUIDE, Florida Grand Opera, Miami.

Listed in RIGOLETTO: A STUDY GUIDE, Florida Grand Opera, Miami.

Recommended in “Suggested Further Reading: Musical Studies” (one of only six entries),


          edited by Stanley Sadie and compiled by Roger Parker (St. Martin’s Press).

Listed in “Verdi in Print: Verdi Studies” (one of only four entries), VERDI WITH A VENGEANCE,

          by William Berger (Vintage).

Listed in “Giuseppe Verdi Bibliography,” HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF OPERA,

          by Scott L. Balthazar (Rowman & Littlefield).

Listed in GIUSEPPE VERDI: A GUIDE TO RESEARCH, by Gregory Harwood (Garland).

Listed in VERDI HANDBUCH, by Anselm Gerhard and Uwe Schweikert (Bärenreiter).

Listed in OPERA: A RESEARCH AND INFORMATION GUIDE, by Guy A. Marco (Garland).


          (Manchester University Press).

Listed in OPERA: THE BASICS, by Denise Gallo (Routledge).

Listed in LEONARD WARREN, AMERICAN BARITONE, by Mary Jane Phillips-Matz (Amadeus Press).

Listed in BODILY CHARM: LIVING OPERA, by Linda Hutcheon and Michael Hutcheon

          (University of Nebraska Press).

Cited in TENOR: HISTORY OF A VOICE, by John Potter (Yale University Press).

Cited in VERDI, OPERA, WOMEN, by Susan Rutherford (Cambridge University Press).

“Bestsellers in Verdi” list on

Listed in “Most Wished For in Books” as one of the most popular Verdi items added to Wish Lists

          and Registries on

Listed in “Most Gifted in Books” as one of the most popular Verdi items ordered as gifts on

Recommended in “Beginners’ Guide to Classical Music Bookstore” (one of only three entries),


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