Italo Gardoni

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Italo Gardoni in 1874 Italo Gardoni 1874.jpg
Italo Gardoni in 1874

Italo Gardoni (12 March 1821 – 26 March 1882) was a leading operatic tenore di grazia singer from Italy who enjoyed a major international career during the middle decades of the 19th century. Along with Giovanni Mario, Gaetano Fraschini, Enrico Tamberlik and Antonio Giuglini, he was one of the most celebrated Italian tenors of his era.

Tenor is a male voice type in classical music whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.

Gaetano Fraschini opera singer

Gaetano Fraschini was an Italian tenor. He created many roles in 19th century operas, including five composed by Giuseppe Verdi. His voice was "heroic ... with a baritonal quality, ... yet Verdi and Donizetti appreciated his ability to sing softly and with subtlety." An Italian biographer has pointed out Fraschini's role in extending the longevity of Donizetti's operas, while at the same time accelerating the ascent of Verdi's repertory. He was indeed the most prominent singer who facilitated the transition from Donizetti to Verdi. Fraschini sang over one hundred roles and Verdi placed him at the top of his favorite tenors' list and described him as a "natural Manrico" for his Il trovatore. Fraschini also played a pivotal role in the success of many operas by Pacini and Mercadante.

Enrico Tamberlik Italian opera singer

Enrico Tamberlik was an Italian tenor who sang to great acclaim at Europe and America's leading opera venues. He excelled in the heroic roles of the Italian and French repertories and was renowned for his powerful declamation and clarion high notes.


His voice was not large but it was exceptionally pure toned and sweet, lacking any disruptive vibrato. He sang legato passages with impressive smoothness but he could also dispatch florid music with flair and considerable agility.

Vibrato is a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch. It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variation and the speed with which the pitch is varied.


Born in Parma, Gardoni studied with Antonio De Cesari (1797–1853). [1] He made his debut as Roberto Devereux (Donizetti) in Viadana in 1840, and over the following 7 years made his career in France, Italy and Germany. [2] In Paris in December 1844 he was Bothwell in the Paris première of Louis Niedermeyer's opera Marie Stuart at the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique opposite the soprano Rosine Stoltz, [3] and was with her again there for the premiere of Michael Balfe's L'étoile de Seville in the following year. [4] Gardoni knew and worked with Balfe, who composed items particularly for him. [5] The limpidity and clarity of his voice, and his ravishing upper notes (no less than his youth, charm and elegance) were greatly admired in Paris: [6] and if he was not ready for all the roles from the repertoires of Adolphe Nourrit and Gilbert Duprez, still (they thought) some Meyerbeer would have suited him well, not least Raoul in Les Huguenots . [7] Gardoni continued to sing in Paris throughout his career. [8]

Parma Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Parma is a city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its architecture, music, art, prosciutto (ham), cheese and surrounding countryside. It is home to the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world. Parma is divided into two parts by the stream of the same name. The district on the far side of the river is Oltretorrente. Parma's Etruscan name was adapted by Romans to describe the round shield called Parma.

<i>Roberto Devereux</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Roberto Devereux is a tragedia lirica, or tragic opera, by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto after François Ancelot's tragedy Elisabeth d'Angleterre (1829), and based as well on the Historie secrete des amours d'Elisabeth et du comte d'Essex (1787) by Jacques Lescéne des Maisons, although Devereux was the subject of at least two other French plays: Le Comte d'Essex by Thomas Corneille and Le Comte d'Essex by Gauthier de Costes, seigneur de la Calprenède.

Viadana, Lombardy Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Viadana is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Mantua in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) southeast of Milan and about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of Mantua.

England: Her Majesty's Theatre 1847-1852

Gardoni as a young man Italo Gardoni as a young man.jpg
Gardoni as a young man

In 1847 he went to London, where he performed regularly until 1874. Sought by rival impresarios in France and Italy, he was purchased from the Paris Opéra for Her Majesty's Theatre by Benjamin Lumley for 60,000 Francs, to compensate his public for the departure from their stage of Mario. Having been introduced through the Puzzi salon in Jermyn Street, [9] his first London stage appearance was in February 1847 in La favorita with Mme Sanchioli: both his principal arias were encored with much enthusiasm for his vocal purity of taste and feeling. His histrionic powers were faultless, except that he lacked the force to portray bursts of passion. [10]

Her Majestys Theatre theatre in London

Her Majesty's Theatre is a West End theatre situated on Haymarket in the City of Westminster, London. The present building was designed by Charles J. Phipps and was constructed in 1897 for actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at the theatre. In the early decades of the 20th century, Tree produced spectacular productions of Shakespeare and other classical works, and the theatre hosted premieres by major playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge, Noël Coward and J. B. Priestley. Since the First World War, the wide stage has made the theatre suitable for large-scale musical productions, and the theatre has accordingly specialised in hosting musicals. The theatre has been home to record-setting musical theatre runs, notably the First World War sensation Chu Chin Chow and the current production, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, which has played continuously at Her Majesty's since 1986.

Benjamin Lumley British opera manager

Benjamin Lumley was a Canadian-born British opera manager and solicitor. Born Benjamin Levy, he was the son of a Jewish merchant Louis Levy.

Giacinta Toso (1807–1889),, Maman Puzzi, was an Italian operatic soprano who had a significant career in England during the 1820s and 1830s, before ill health forced her to retire from the stage. For over half a century thereafter, she and her husband maintained a musical salon in London through which many of the greatest musical stars of the age made their entry into musical life in England.

There followed La sonnambula with Mme Castellan (the dramatic soprano who also partnered Lumley's tenore robusto Gaetano Fraschini), and I puritani and L'elisir d'amore (with Castellan and Luigi Lablache), and he rapidly became a great favourite. [11] Gardoni took a minor role in Jenny Lind's London debut in Robert le diable , with Josef Staudigl, Fraschini, Castellan and others, in the presence of Queen Victoria: he partnered Lind in La sonnambula (and La figlia del reggimento ?) soon afterwards. [12] On 22 July 1847 he created the tenor role in Verdi's I masnadieri opposite Lind, Lablache and Filippo Coletti, [13] the first two nights being under the composer's baton, and thereafter under Balfe's. [14] At the salon of Henry Greville he was associated with Mario, Grisi, Pinsuti and others. [15]

<i>La sonnambula</i> opera by Vincenzo Bellini

La sonnambula is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini set to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani, based on a scenario for a ballet-pantomime written by Eugène Scribe and choreographed by Jean-Pierre Aumer called La somnambule, ou L'arrivée d'un nouveau seigneur. The ballet had premiered in Paris in September 1827 at the height of a fashion for stage works incorporating somnambulism.

<i>I puritani</i> opera by Vincenzo Bellini

I puritani is an opera by Vincenzo Bellini. It was originally written in two acts and later changed to three acts on the advice of Gioachino Rossini, with whom the young composer had become friends. The music was set to a libretto by Count Carlo Pepoli, an Italian émigré poet whom Bellini had met at a salon run by the exile Princess Belgiojoso, which became a meeting place for many Italian revolutionaries.

<i>Lelisir damore</i> 1832 opera by Gaetano Donizetti

L'elisir d'amore is a comic opera in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto, after Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel Auber's Le philtre (1831). The opera premiered on 12 May 1832 at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan.

In the 1848 season he was Lumley's leading tenor. Il barbiere di Siviglia with Sophie Cruvelli and Belletti was followed by the London premiere of Verdi's Attila , with Cruvelli, Velletti and Cuzzani. He sang Gennaro to Cruvelli's Lucrezia Borgia . [16] Sims Reeves, then attempting to establish his own place on the Italian dramatic stage in London, agreed with Lumley to appear in the lesser role of Carlo in Linda di Chamounix (supporting Eugenia Tadolini) in the hope of playing Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor , Percy in Anna Bolena and Arturo in I puritani , which were billed for the (sensational) return of Jenny Lind. But Gardoni was cast as Edgardo, and Reeves severed his engagements. There was a cry of 'Sims Reeves' from the gallery as Gardoni sang Edgardo's first cavatina on the opening night. [17] The situation probably arose through Lind expressing a preference for Gardoni as her partner: obligingly he also stepped in as Carlo. [18] Gardoni now sang Roberto for Lind, but was thought not up to the part. [19] But at her final performance at Her Majesty's, in Robert le diable on 10 May 1849 (before a royal and distinguished audience), Gardoni led Jenny Lind onto the stage to receive her rapturous applause. [20]

Sophie Cruvelli singer

Sophie Johanne Charlotte Crüwell, vicountess Vigier, stage name Sophie Cruvelli was a German opera singer. She was a dramatic soprano who had a brief but stellar public career especially in London and Paris in the middle years of the 19th century. She was admired for her vocal powers and as a tragédienne. Both Verdi and Meyerbeer created operatic roles with the intention that she should first perform them.

<i>Attila</i> (opera) opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Attila is an opera in a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on the 1809 play Attila, König der Hunnen by Zacharias Werner. The opera received its first performance at La Fenice in Venice on 17 March 1846.

<i>Lucrezia Borgia</i> (opera) Opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Lucrezia Borgia is a melodramatic opera in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after the play Lucrezia Borgia by Victor Hugo, in its turn after the legend of Lucrezia Borgia. Lucrezia Borgia was first performed on 26 December 1833 at La Scala, Milan.

After a winter season in St Petersburg, in 1850 he reappeared with Parodi and Frezzolini in a revival of I Capuleti e i Montecchi (as Tebaldo), and pleased his audience by disproving a false report of his death. [21] June 1850 saw a première of Halévy's La tempesta in which as Fernando he partnered Sontag's Miranda, Carlotta Grisi's Ariel, Colini's Prospero and the celebrated impersonation of Caliban by Lablache, directed by Balfe. [22]

Gardoni and the star contralto Marietta Alboni were the lead soloists, in the presence of Queen Isabella II, in the 1850 inaugural performance of La favorita at the Teatro Real in Madrid. [23]

1851 renewed Gardoni's Gennaro in Lucrezia Borgia. A novelty première, Giulio Alary's Le tre nozze, with Henriette Sontag and Lablache, preceded the more significant L'enfant prodigue of Auber with Sontag, Massol and Coletti. He was with Cruvelli again for a special performance of Balfe's opera I quattro figli . [24] When Reeves and Cruvelli sang Fidelio in 1851, Gardoni led the hand-picked soloists forming the chorus of prisoners on the first night. In Lumley's operatic concerts, also, Reeves, Gardoni and Calzolari formed a 'three tenors' trio for Curschmann's Evviva Baccho, and took part in a triplicated version of Martini's trio Don't tickle me, I pray with Henriette Sontag, Sophie Cruvelli and Jenny Duprez as soprani, and three bassi including Lablache. [25] He continued to sing for Lumley through his crisis months of early 1852, and gave a Norma with Cruvelli and Lablache: but after Cruvelli's defection he, too, slipped away from Lumley's Company. [26] In 1852 he was with Reeves, Pauline Viardot-Garcia, Louisa Pyne, Charlotte Sainton-Dolby and Karl Formes in first oratorio performances of Dr Bexfield's Israel Restored and Hugh Pearson's Jerusalem at the Norwich Festival. [27]

England 1854-1872

Italo Gardoni circa 1860 Italo Gardoni (H Hering c 1860).jpg
Italo Gardoni circa 1860

In 1855, when Michael Costa produced his oratorio Eli in the Birmingham Festival, with Viardot, Castellan, Reeves and Formes, Gardoni was in the audience with Mario and Enrico Tamberlik, and afterwards they went in a group to pay Reeves a large compliment. [28] Gardoni himself appeared in Rossini's opera Il conte Ory with Constance Nantier-Didiée and Angiolina Bosio, an 'exquisite' combination of voices. [29] In 1857 he participated in the second Lyceum season (while the new Covent Garden theatre was awaited). H. F. Chorley praised his performance of Auber's Fra Diavolo , with Angiolina Bosio, Mlle Marai, Giorgio Ronconi and Pietro Neri-Baraldi, with Joseph Tagliafico and Charles Zelger as the Brigands. [30]

During the later 1850s Gardoni appeared often at Covent Garden, including performances of Alfredo in La traviata for Michael Costa in 1858 and 1859. After Meyerbeer had re-drafted his Ein Feldlager in Schlesien for Paris as L'étoile du nord (1854), an Italian version was presented for the British premiere, at Covent Garden. For this, Meyerbeer added the Act 1 polonaise and the romanza Disperso il crin sul mesto sen for Gardoni in the role of Danilowitz. [31] Gardoni also took the role of Corentin in the British premiere of Meyerbeer's Dinorah (Le pardon), at Covent Garden, in 1859, [32] in which Chorley praised his 'peasant poltroonery'. [33]

In autumn 1864, when the mentally unstable rival tenor Antonio Giuglini took up his doomed St Petersburg engagement, Gardoni joined Mapleson's autumn operatic touring party as principal tenor. (Gardoni had been one of Mapleson's vocal instructors. [34] ) Charles Santley called him

'a fine singer, and a much better actor than he generally had credit for. He was a very good Faust and Sir Huon, though the music of the latter did not suit him. In Mireille he was excellent... His voice was pure: he was a handsome man, and in parts which suited him an excellent actor. (He) could sing any kind of music, cantabile or florid.' Santley thought him in many ways the superior of Guiglini. [35]

His 1865 Faust was with Thérèse Tietjens, Zélia Trebelli, Junca and Santley. [36] In the 1866 season at Her Majesty's, he sang Pilade in a magnificent staging of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride , opposite Tietjens (Iphigenia), Santley (Oreste) and Édouard Gassier (Thoas) - in which the soloists 'surpassed themselves': [37] also he renewed his Corentin ( Dinorah ), with Ilma de Murska and Santley (Hoel), greatly to Mapleson's satisfaction. [38] In 1867 he was Ottavio in the Don Giovanni with Christina Nilsson, Tietjens, Sinico, Gassier (the Don) and Santley (Leporello), and his Corentino was repeated. [39]

Gardoni remained with Mapleson, and in Robert le Diable in 1872 he was Rambaldo to Christine Nilsson's Alice, Pietro Mongini's Roberto, Signor Foli's Bertramo and de Murska's Isabella [40]


In March 1864 Gardoni was a soloist in the first performance of Rossini's Petite messe solennelle , with Carlotta and Barbara Marchisio and Luigi Agnesi (Louis Agniez). [41]

Gardoni married the daughter of baritone Antonio Tamburini and (his wife) the soprano Marietta Goja. [42] He died in Paris.

Vocal character

In 1869 Gardoni published a set of vocal exercises under the title:

The old entry from the Dictionary of Music and Musicians called him a 'tenore di grazia':

'Italo Gardoni possessed what might be called only a moderate voice, but so well, so easily and naturally produced, that it was heard almost to the same advantage in a theatre as in a room. This was especially noticeable when he sang the part of Florestan, in Fidelio, at Covent Garden, after an absence of some duration from the stage. The unaffected grace of his style rendered him as perfect a model for vocal artists as could well be found. [43]

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  1. See short biography in Italian, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).De Cesari studied singing at Piacenza, and then at the Music Lyceum in Bologna. From 1820 he was singing teacher at the College of St Augustine at Piacenza, and, becoming a fine singer, was summoned as tenor to the Ducal Chapel in 1830 and was made stipendiary virtuoso da camera of Maria Luigia. Two years later he began teaching in Parma and at his death had become a citizen there.
  2. Rosenthal and Warrack (1974), p. 146.
  3. Enciclopedia della Musica (Garzanti - AA.VV.)
  4. See external link
  5. Basil Walsh, 'Balfe in Italy', Opera Quarterly Vol. 18.4 (Autumn 2002), 484-502.
  6. E.g. Théophile Gautier, Histoire de l'Art dramatique en France depuis vingt-cinq ans, Série 3, p.305 (facsimile edition Elibron Classics, Adamant Media Corporation) .
  7. A. H. Blaze in Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 December 1844, Vol. 8, p 1106ff.
  8. Elizabeth Forbes, Biographical notice (see external link).
  9. Mrs Pitt Byrne, Gossip of the Century (Downey, London 1899), II, 185-191.
  10. Benjamin Lumley, Reminiscences of the Opera, pp.171-173.
  11. Lumley Reminiscences, 178-79, 181-82.
  12. Lumley Reminiscences, 185-86, 189.
  13. For two engraved scenes, see 'The Theatres', Illustrated London News 31 July 1847, p. 77 (Pdf 4/27).
  14. Julian Budden, The Operas of Verdi (Cassell), vol 1, p. 314.
  15. Charles Santley, Student and Singer. The Reminiscences of Charles Santley (Edward Arnold, London 1892), p. 162.
  16. Lumley Reminiscences, 214-217.
  17. Mrs W. Pitt Byrne & Rachel H. Busk, Gossip of the Century: personal and traditional memories--social, literary, artistic, etc (Downey 1899), 190-94. Read here
  18. Charles E. Pearce, Sims Reeves: Fifty Years of Music in London (Stanley Paul & Co., London 1924), 115-122.
  19. Lumley Reminiscences, 221.
  20. Ferris 2008, p. 93.
  21. Lumley Reminiscences, 282-83.
  22. Gossip of the Century (cited above), 167-68. Read here,
  23. See external link "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  24. Lumley Reminiscences, 304, 308, .
  25. Pearce 1924, 164.
  26. Lumley Reminiscences, 335, 342.
  27. Pearce 1924, 170.
  28. Pearce 1924, 182.
  29. H.F. Chorley, Thirty Years' Musical Recollections (Hurst & Blackett, London 1862) Vol II, 252.
  30. H.F. Chorley, Thirty Years, II, 275.
  31. A. H. Blaze, Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 July 1867 (PDF page 8).
  32. Elizabeth Forbes, Gardoni biography (see external link).
  33. Chorley Thirty Years, 314.
  34. J. H. Mapleson, The Mapleson Memoirs 1848-1888 (Belford, Clarke & Co, Chicago 1888), Vol. I, p. 2.
  35. Santley 1892, 211-12.
  36. Mapleson 1888, I, 146.
  37. Mapleson 1888, I, 95.
  38. Santley 1892, 240; Mapleson 1888, 94-95.
  39. Santley 1892, 250.
  40. Herman Klein, Thirty Years of Musical Life in London (The Century Co., New York 1903), 154.
  41. Richard Osborne, Rossini: His life and works (OUP (US) 2007 (2nd Edn)), p. 159.
  42. Rosenthal and Warrack, Concise Oxford Dictionary, 'Tamburini' entry.
  43. See wikisource