Sarah Joy Miller as Anna Nicole Smith in Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage, the final production from the New York City Opera, which closed its doors for good this fall. Stephanie Berger hide caption

itoggle caption Stephanie Berger

Giuseppe Verdi's operas have an uncanny ability to probe into our contemporary psyche. Leemage/Universal Images Group/Getty Images hide caption

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Don't be caught fishing for facts about Verdi on the bicentennial of his birth. Getty Images/DeAgostini hide caption

itoggle caption Getty Images/DeAgostini

In his operas, Giuseppe Verdi had a knack for empowering marginalized people — like the title character of Aida, who is an enslaved Ethiopian princess (played in this 2011 French production by American soprano Indra Thomas). Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Soprano Angela Meade made her professional debut in the role of Elvira in Verdi's Ernani at the Metropolitan Opera. Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera hide caption

itoggle caption Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera