Opera Australia Blog

Happy Birthday Verdi! A fitting celebration for an opera master.


Today marks the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth. Without the colourful composer, we would never have heard La traviata, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, Aida, Falstaff … the list goes on.

In celebration, we asked two of Opera Australia’s star singers to create some birthday delights for the masterful opera composer.

Soprano Lorina Gore shares her favourite birthday cake recipe, and tenor Stuart Skelton mixes up a cocktail in honour of the Italian hero.

Verdi’s Birthday Mudcake

GORE, Lorina - head shot colour (low res)(Supplied by Lorina Gore)

“A special anniversary deserves a special cake – and I have found the most wonderful recipe for a chocolate mudcake,” she says. “This densely rich, moist cake is always extremely well received, very much like the opulent music of this popular composer! Happy 200th anniversary to the great Maestro Giuseppe Verdi.”


2 and 1/8 cups of hot water
1/2 cup of milk
2 and 1/4 cups of butter
1 and 3/4 cup dark chocolate
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda


1) Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius. Grease and line a cake tin (the recipe suggests two eight inch cake tins, creating a layer cake as the cake does not rise much. Lorina often makes this recipe as cupcakes.)
2) Put water, butter, milk, sugar and dark chocolate into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the solids melt and the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.
3) Pour chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl, and stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour, cocoa and baking soda, stirring well to break up any lumps.
4) Pour into cake tin and bake for 45 minutes (larger cake tins may take up to 65 minutes). Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake to test if it is ready – if it comes out with batter clinging to it, increase the cooking time. The skewer should come out clean!

This cake is delicious with buttercream frosting and positively wicked with chocolate ganache.

Adapted from a recipe by blogger “00gt00”. The link is here.


Verdi’s birthday cocktail: The Siempre Libre

Stuart Skelton at the bar

(Designed by Stuart Skelton, world-renowned tenor and master mixologist, in honour of Verdi’s anniversary!)

Skelton describes his cocktail as a La traviata-inspired spin on the classic Cuba Libre, (cola, lime and white rum).

Pour 1/2 measure of Bacardi Gold and a 1/2 measure of Cinzano D’oro into a sugar-rimmed champagne flute.

Top up with champagne (the very best, of course).

And because La traviata wouldn’t be La traviata without a camellia, garnish the cocktail with a camellia petal. Libiamo!


A special thanks to Sarah Noble, who blogs at Prima La Musica, for passing this one on!

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