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The dates and locations are those of the premieres.
- Marina (comp. 1888; NP)
- Malavita (21.2.1892 Teatro Argentina, Rome)
- Regina Diaz (5.3.1894 Teatro Mercadante, Naples)
- Andrea Chénier (28.3.1896 Teatro alla Scala, Milan)
- Fedora (17.11.1898 Teatro Lirico, Milan)
- Il Voto [rev of Malavita] (6.9.1902 Teatro Bellini, Naples)
- Siberia (19.12.1903 Teatro alla Scala, Milan)
- Marcella (9.11.1907 Teatro Lirico, Milan)
- Mese Mariano (17.3.1910 Teatro Massimo, Palermo)
- Madame Sans Gêne (25.1.1915 Metropolitan Opera, New York)
- Giove a Pompei (6.7.1921 Teatro La Pariola, Rome)
- La Cena delle Beffe (20.12.1924 Teatro alla Scala, Milan)
- Il Rè (12.1.1929 Teatro alla Scala, Milan)
Umberto Giordano was trained as a musician in Naples and achieved his first great success in Milan in 1896 with the opera Andrea Chenier. His last completed opera, Il rè, was staged in Milan in 1929. In style his music bears some resemblance to that of Puccini or, still more, to that of Leoncavallo.
Umberto Giordano (1867–1948) was a 22-year-old student at the Royal College of Music in Naples. His opera, Marina, didn’t win a prize, but it did place sixth — earning him a stipend of 300 lire a month from Sonzogno and a contract for a full-length opera.
Giordano’s first full-length opera, Mala vita (1892), was a moderate success. His second, Regina Diaz (1894), failed. Frustrated, Sonzogno (who was still paying Giordano’s salary) introduced the young composer to librettist Luigi Illica (1857–1919).
Illica had already discussed the idea for an opera about the French poet André Chénier with Baron Alberto Franchetti, who ceded it to Giordano. The libretto was finished in November of 1894, and Giordano began composing early the next year in Milan, in a rented ground-floor storage room for tombstones. He also wooed and married Olga Spatz-Wurms, whose family owned the hotel which Verdi frequented during his last years, allowing Giordano to meet the elder composer and benefit from his advice.
Upon its submission to Sonzogno in the fall of 1895, Andrea Chénier was deemed “worthless” by one senior editorial advisor, and was accepted hesitantly only after Mascagni personally interceded on Giordano’s behalf. The opera opened at La Scala on March 28, 1896 and was an instant success, catapulting Giordano to the forefront of the giovane scuola (“young school”), along with Mascagni, Puccini and Leoncavallo.
Written in the verismo (“realistic”) style — pioneered by Mascagni’s prize-winner of 1889, Cavalleria rusticana — Andrea Chénier depicts the passions of ordinary people, and the libretto was influenced by the poetry of the real André Chénier.