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Young Verdi: Altar Boy

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

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In his Book of Musical Anecdotes, Norman Lebrecht relates a revealing incident from Verdi’s childhood.

The seven-year-old Verdi, born into a modest family, once served as an altar boy at the church of Le Rencole. During Fête Day, the young boy heard the organ for the first time. Transported by the emanating musical harmonies, the child did not hear the priest’s request for water. Three times did the priest make his demand, to no avail. Enraged at the child with his head in the clouds, the priest struck a severe blow, pushing young Verdi down the three altar stairs, knocking him into unconsciousness.

When the child thankfully awoke from his ordeal, what was the first thing for which he asked his parents? A painkiller? A glass of water? A restraining order on the belligerent priest?


Young Verdi asked for music lessons.


To learn how an older Verdi handled a brazen opera-goer, please read:

Posted by on January 20th, 2019

One Comment

  1. Brad Kronen says:

    As this former opera singer will attest, given two of his 5 favorite operas of all time are Un Ballo In Maschera and Macbeth, praise to the Allmighty that the Maestro woke up and didn’t stay unconscious, be it consciously or otherwise.

    Loved learning that tidbit, Grazie!

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