Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) is the most famous composer of Italian Opera. He was born near Parma, studied in Milan, then returned to his home town of Busseto as maestro di musica. At the age of 26 he moved permanently to Milan to concentrate on composing operas, as Milan is the home of the famous La Scala Opera Company.

He followed the earlier Italian tradition in which the vocal melody is supreme, and the orchestra unimportant.   Some of his major operas are Nabuco, Rigoletto, and Il Trovatore, and his most famous is La Traviata, packed full of wonderful melodic arias.

However, in his later works, such as Othello, Aida and Falstaff, he moved toward more dramatic emphasis and a greater role for the orchestra. His only significant non-operatic work is his Requiem mass. Verdi became a national hero in Italy, and his operas are still the core of today's opera house repertory.