6 March 2019

6 March

La Traviata - the world's favourite opera

Verdi's masterpiece performed for the first time

Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata was performed in front of a paying audience for the first time on this day in 1853. The premiere took place at Teatro La Fenice, the opera house in Venice with which Verdi had a long relationship, one that saw him establish his fame as a composer.  La Traviata would ultimately cement his reputation as a master of opera after the success of Rigoletto and Il Trovatore. La Traviata has become the world's favourite opera. No work has been performed more often, yet the reception for the opening performance was mixed, with applause from a demanding audience at the end of the first act but jeers after the second. Read more…


Francesco Guicciardini - writer and diplomat

Friend of Machiavelli among first to record history in context

The historian and statesman Francesco Guicciardini, best known for writing Storia d'Italia, a book that came to be regarded as a classic history of Italy, was born on this day in 1483 in Florence. Along with his contemporary Niccolò Machiavelli, Guicciardini is considered one of the major political writers of the Italian Renaissance. Guicciardini was an adviser and confidant to three popes, the governor of several central Italian states, ambassador, administrator and military captain.  Storia d'Italia - originally titled 'La Historia di Italia' - was notable for Guicciardini's skilful analysis of interrelating political movements in different states and his ability to set events in context and with objectivity. Read more…


Augusto Odone – medical pioneer

Father who invented ‘Lorenzo’s Oil’ for sick son

Augusto Odone, the father who invented a medicine to treat his incurably ill son despite having no medical training, was born on this day in 1933 in Rome.  Odone’s son, Lorenzo, was diagnosed with a rare metabolic condition at the age of six and his parents were told he would suffer increasing paralysis and probably die within two years. Refusing simply to do nothing, the Odones, who lived in Washington, contacted every doctor, biologist and researcher they could find who had researched the condition, eventually coming up with a medicine that combined extracts of olive oil and rapeseed oil. The medicine soon became known as Lorenzo’s Oil. Against all odds, Lorenzo survived more than 20 years longer than had been forecast by doctors. Read more…


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