Umberto Giordano

Last updated

Umberto Giordano
Umberto Giordano by Gaetano Esposito.jpg
Umberto Giordano (1896) portrayed by Gaetano Esposito
Born(1867-08-28)28 August 1867
Died12 November 1948 (1948-11-13) (aged 81)

Umberto Menotti Maria Giordano (28 August 1867 12 November 1948) was an Italian composer, mainly of operas.


He was born in Foggia in Apulia, southern Italy, and studied under Paolo Serrao at the Conservatoire of Naples. [1] His first opera, Marina, was written for a competition promoted by the music publishers Casa Sonzogno for the best one-act opera, remembered today because it marked the beginning of Italian verismo . The winner was Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana . Giordano, the youngest contestant, was placed sixth among seventy-three entries with his Marina, a work which generated enough interest for Sonzogno to commission the staging of an opera based on it in the 1891–92 season. [2]

The result was Mala vita , a gritty verismo opera about a labourer who vows to reform a prostitute if he is cured of his tuberculosis. This work caused something of a scandal when performed at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, in February 1892. It played successfully in Vienna, Prague and Berlin and was re-written as Il Voto a few years later, in an attempt to raise interest in the work again. [3]

Giordano tried a more romantic topic with his next opera, Regina Diaz , with a libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci (1894), but this was a failure, taken off the stage after just two performances. [4]

Umberto Giordano, 1905 Umberto Giordano, Italian composer.jpg
Umberto Giordano, 1905

Giordano then moved to Milan and returned to verismo with his best-known work, Andrea Chénier (1896), based on the life of the French poet André Chénier. [5] Fedora (1898), based on Victorien Sardou's play, featured a rising young tenor named Enrico Caruso. [6] It was also a success and is still performed today. His later works are much less known, but occasionally revived and in the case of La cena delle beffe (based on the play of the same title by Sem Benelli) recognised by musicologists and critics with some respect. [7] He died in Milan at the age of 81. [8]

The most important theater in his home town of Foggia has been dedicated to Umberto Giordano. A square in Foggia is also named after him and contains several statues representing his most famous works. [9]


Related Research Articles

Pietro Mascagni Italian composer

Pietro Mascagni was an Italian composer primarily known for his operas. His 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria rusticana caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music. While it was often held that Mascagni, like Ruggiero Leoncavallo, was a "one-opera man" who could never repeat his first success, L'amico Fritz and Iris have remained in the repertoire in Europe since their premieres.

Francesco Cilea Italian composer

Francesco Cilea was an Italian composer. Today he is particularly known for his operas L'arlesiana and Adriana Lecouvreur.

<i>Verismo</i> Style of opera

In opera, verismo was a post-Romantic operatic tradition associated with Italian composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano, Francesco Cilea and Giacomo Puccini. Verismo as an operatic genre had its origins in an Italian literary movement of the same name. This was in turn related to the international literary movement of naturalism as practised by Émile Zola and others. Like naturalism, the verismo literary movement sought to portray the world with greater realism. In so doing, Italian verismo authors such as Giovanni Verga wrote about subject matter, such as the lives of the poor, that had not generally been seen as a fit subject for literature.

<i>Fedora</i> (opera)

Fedora is an opera in three acts by Umberto Giordano to an Italian libretto by Arturo Colautti, based on the 1882 play Fédora by Victorien Sardou. Along with Andrea Chénier and Siberia, it is one of the most notable works of Giordano.

Daniela Dessì

Daniela Dessì was an Italian operatic soprano, born in Genoa.

Teatro Lirico (Milan)

The Teatro Lirico is a theatre in Milan, Italy. In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was particularly notable for opera performances, including the world premieres of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and Giordano's Fedora. The theatre, located on Via Rastrelli, closed in 1998. However, a restoration project was begun in April 2007, and it was due to re-open in 2009 as the Teatro Lirico Giorgio Gaber.

Maria Caniglia

Maria Caniglia was one of the leading Italian dramatic sopranos of the 1930s and 1940s.

Giangiacomo Guelfi

Giangiacomo Guelfi was an operatic baritone, particularly associated with Verdi and Puccini.

Leopoldo Mugnone

Leopoldo Mugnone was an Italian conductor, especially of opera, whose most famous work was done in the period 1890-1920, both in Europe and South America. He conducted various operatic premieres, and was also a composer of operas.

Spyridon-Filiskos Samaras was a Greek composer particularly admired for his operas who was part of the generation of composers that heralded the works of Giacomo Puccini. His compositions were praised worldwide during his lifetime and he is arguably the most important composer of the Ionian School (music). He composed also the Olympic Hymn on lyrics of Kostis Palamas.

This is a list of recordings of Andrea Chénier, an opera by the composer Umberto Giordano, which was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on 28 March 1896.

<i>Mese mariano</i>

Mese mariano is an opera in one act by Umberto Giordano. Its Italian libretto by Salvatore Di Giacomo was adapted from his play 'O Mese Mariano, which was in turn adapted from his novella, Senza vederlo. It premiered at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo on 17 March 1910. The opera is described as a bozzetto lirico and has a running time of 35 minutes. It tells the story of a woman who visits an orphanage to see her child. Racked with guilt at having abandoned him, she is unaware that he had died the night before.

Francesco Maria Bonini was an Italian baritone who had a major international opera career from 1896 through 1927. He was one of the first wave of musicians to be recorded, having made a number of recordings with Fonotipia Records in Milan in 1905–1906.

Franco Lo Giudice was an Italian tenor who had a successful international opera career during the first half of the twentieth century. He was an important exponent of the works of Riccardo Zandonai, notably starring in the world premieres of his operas I cavalieri di Ekebù (1925) and Giuliano (1928). His voice is preserved on a number of recordings made with the HMV, Parlophone, and Pathé record labels. Music critic Alan Blyth described him as a "fiery, strong tenor" who "excelled in verismo parts."

<i>La cena delle beffe</i>

La cena delle beffe is an opera in four acts composed by Umberto Giordano to an Italian libretto by Sem Benelli adapted from his 1909 play of the same name. The opera premiered on 20 December 1924 at La Scala. Milan. The story, set in Florence at the time of Lorenzo de' Medici, recounts the rivalry between Giannetto Malespini and Neri Chiaramantesi for the affections of the beautiful Ginevra and Giannetto's thirst for revenge over a cruel joke played on him by Neri and his brother Gabriello. Giannetto's revenge "joke" ultimately leads Neri to murder both Ginevra and his own brother. The opera ends with Neri's descent into madness.

Luigi Marini

Luigi Marini, was an Italian lyric tenor.

NeldaGarrone was an Italian mezzo-soprano, best known for her interpretations of comprimaria roles in some of the earliest complete opera recordings.

<i>Mala vita</i>

Mala vita is an opera in three acts composed by Umberto Giordano to a libretto by Nicola Daspuro adapted from Salvatore Di Giacomo and Goffredo Cognetti's verismo play of the same name. Giordano's first full-length opera, Mala vita premiered on 21 February 1892 at the Teatro Argentina. It was subsequently performed in Naples, Vienna, Berlin and Milan, and other Italian cities over the next two years. In 1897 a considerably re-worked and revised version under the title Il voto premiered in Milan. Within a few years both versions had disappeared from the repertoire. Amongst its rare modern revivals was the 2002 performance at the Teatro Umberto Giordano in Foggia which was recorded live and released on the Bongiovanni label.

<i>Regina Diaz</i>

Regina Diaz is an opera in two acts composed by Umberto Giordano to a libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci. It premiered on 5 March 1894 at the Teatro Mercadante in Naples. The libretto is based on Lockroy and Edmond Badon's Un duel sous le cardinal de Richelieu, which was also the source of Donizetti's 1843 opera Maria di Rohan, although the setting for Giordano's version was moved from 17th-century Paris to 18th-century Naples. The opera was a failure at its premiere and withdrawn after the second performance. Giordano's patron and publisher, Edoardo Sonzogno, blamed the failure on the poor libretto. Giordano blamed it on Sonzogno's interference in the production.

Nicola Daspuro

Nicola Daspuro was an Italian writer, journalist, and librettist. Amongst his librettos were those for Macagni's L'amico Fritz and Giordano's Mala vita. Several of his librettos were written under the anagramatic pseudonym P. Suardon.


  1. Amintore Galli (1892). Il Teatro illustrato e la musica popolare: Ritratti di maestri ed artisti celebri, vedute e bozzetti di scene, disegni di teatri monumentali, costumi teatrali, ornamentazioni, ecc., ecc. 12. E. Sonzogno. p. 66.
  2. Joe Staines (2010). Joe Staines (ed.). The Rough Guide to Classical Music. Penguin. p. 208. ISBN   9781405383219.
  3. Burton D. Fisher (2005). Andrea Chenier (Giordano) Mini Guide. Opera Mini Guide Series. Opera Journeys Publishing. p. 21. ISBN   9781930841550.
  4. Alfred Bates, James Penny Boyd, ed. (1909). Drama and Opera: The opera. Drama and Opera: Their History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, Athenian Society (London, England). 23-24. Athenian Society. p. 295.
  5. Matthew Boyden, Nick Kimberley (2002). Joe Staines (ed.). The Rough Guide to Opera (illustrated ed.). Rough Guides. p. 379. ISBN   9781858287492.
  6. Pierre Van Rensselaer Key, Bruno Zirato (1922). Enrico Caruso: A Biography. Little, Brown. p.  99.
  7. Anthony (Tony) Amato (2011). The Smallest Grand Opera in the World. Universe. p. 156. ISBN   9781450299176.
  8. Alan Riding, Leslie Dunton-Downer (2006). Eyewitness Companions: Opera. Penguin. p. 162. ISBN   9780756643904.
  9. Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls (2007). Bay of Naples & Southern Italy (illustrated ed.). New Holland Publishers. p. 240. ISBN   9781860113499.