Composer (1815 - 1878)
The work of Temistocle Solera, librettist and Italian composer, represents the moment when Romanticism from Lombardy merged with melodrama.
He had a decisively intense and adventurous life. He was the son of a patriot and was born in Ferrara, Italy on December 25th, 1815. He attended the Collegio Imperiale of Vienna where he studied literature and music until the day when, still a boy, he ran away from school. He was found and sent to Collegio Longone in Milan, where he continued his studies. He made his debut as a poet and romance novelist when he was really young: between 1840 and 1845 he wrote four operas from his own librettos and a novel, Michelino, which wasn't successful.
Solera owed his success to his encounter with Giuseppe Verdi, for whom he wrote opera librettos. He made adjustments to the libretto for Verdi's first opera Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, staged in 1839 but didn't put his name to it. The first agreement with Verdi started with Nabucco (1842), when the libretto was presented to Verdi already composed, but which was slightly changed by the composer. They worked on librettos based on historical themes like I Lombardi alla prima Crociata (1843), Giovanna d'Arco (1845) and Attila (1846).
Subsequently Solera moved to Spain, where he lived from 1846 to 1859. There he engaged in the activity of impresario and orchestra conductor in various theatres on the Iberian peninsula: Saragozza, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Madrid. During his stay in Spain he was also a secret advisor for the Queen Isabella's and also maybe her lover. He continued his creative activity, with various operas among which an opera based on his own libretto entitled La Hermana del Pelayo (Madrid, 1845) and a libretto for Juan Arrieta (director of the Conservatory of Madrid) for the opera La conquista di Granata, staged in 1850 and subsequently in 1855 with the new title, Isabella la Cattolica. He also collaborated with an influential political newspaper and consequently he was considered to be one of the best writers in Spain.
He returned to Italy in 1859, taking up residence in Milan, and travelled a lot, overall between Turin and Paris becoming a secret courier between Napoleon III and Cavour. After the armistice of Villafranca on July 11th, 1859, disappointed by the politics of Napoleone III, Solera withdrew from his task which he had been doing up to then, and returned to Milan, where he started work in the office of administration for public security, and was assigned the task of combating against banditry in Basilicata. He took on the job of questor in various cities, organized the police system for the Egyptian Khedive, and then finally became an antiquarian in Paris.
Temistocle Solera died in poverty in Milan on April 21st, 1878.