Umberto Giordano

Umberto Menotti Maria Giordano (* Foggia August 28, 1867; † Milan November 12, 1948 ) was an Italian composer.

Life and work

In the entrance examination in the conservatory of his hometown Giordano fell through at first; afterwards he studied privately with Paolo Serrao, a teacher at the Conservatory of Naples. In 1882, he entered this establishment and studied until 1890, piano, composition, orchestration and conducting; with Paolo Serrao he was also trained in scenic composition. His first opera Marina, he wrote for an upmarket competition of the publishing house Sonzogno in 1888. Giordano was here the youngest of 73 candidates in the competition and reached the 6th place. Pietro Mascagni was later incorporated an act of this work in his opera Cavalleria rusticana. Giordano has aroused the interest of the said publishing house for the order of an opera for the 1891/92 season in the course of this competition. Then the opera Mala vita was ( Libretto: Nicola Daspuro 1889, inspired by the vernacular scenes from Naples in three acts by Salvatore Di Giacomo and Goffredo Cognetti ). This drama revolves around a worker who praised the rescue of a prostitute when he reached for the recovery of his tuberculosis. When the opera was performed in 1892 in Rome, she loosened because of their too- realistic representation of Neapolitan grievances from a scandal and was withdrawn to its revision in 1897. After all, the opera drew attention to the novel expression of the early style of realism. It was performed in the same year at the Vienna State Opera, at the Kroll Opera in Berlin and in Prague with great approval.

With his next opera Regina Diaz (1894, libretto by Giovanni Targioni - Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, a processing of the substance of the opera Maria di Rohan by Gaetano Donizetti ) Giordano tried a more romantic direction. However, they had little success and was performed only twice. After this failure, the composer moved because of the close collaboration with his librettist Luigi Illica to Milan and returned to the verismo style. He lived alternately in Milan ( marriage to Olga Sparrow 1896) and in his villa in Baveno on Lake Maggiore. There was to be later known work, Andrea Chénier (1896, libretto by Luigi Illica ) based on the life of the French poet André Chénier ( 1762-1794 ). Also Fedora has been successful and is listed today more often. Other achievements include the operas Siberia ( Teatro alla Scala 1903) and Mese mariano (Teatro Massimo in Palermo 1910). In 1924, the opera Madame Sans - Gêne came ( composition 1915 ) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York under Arturo Toscanini premiered. Later works had only moderate success, for example, La cena delle beffe ( The Banquet of the scornful, 1924) or Il Re ( The King, 1929); both were also conducted by Arturo Toscanini.

Giordano has not posted more lyrical operas, beyond a certain number of piano pieces, vocal works and motets as well as a symphonic poem. Although he had several other plans to stage works, he has implemented compositionally after 1929 no further more, probably because of the realization that now the cinema had replaced the opera as a popular genre.


Besides Pietro Mascagni and Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano applies with its striking opera as the leading exponent of verismo. He is primarily a playwright; his other works are in the shadow of his operas. Their most significant, Andrea Chénier is to find remains at international fixtures while Fedora pushes back on increased interest only since the 1980s. All other works could not prevail permanently, despite initial great successes. In Andrea Chénier and Fedora succeeds Giordano with great skill to make his melodic talent for verismo drama available: a vocal style that alternates between Parlando and arioso passages, the singers but not so much high voltage demands like Mascagni, is a colored orchestral support, which never occurs but in the foreground, but accompanied the numerous theater effective turns of partially liable trashy action. In his last full-length opera La cena delle beffe Giordano manages a refinement of orchestral technique with largely declamatory treatment of the vocals. From the rest of his work as a composer is Piedigrotta a full orchestra seal bold naturalistic sound combinations dar.

In his hometown of Foggia, the Music Conservatory and the Municipal Theatre are named after him. Furthermore, its square its name: the previously located there memorial of the fallen was moved to the Piazza Italia, and in its place stands since 1961 Giordano's statue, surrounded by a ring of characters from his most important operas. In the context of Foggia is still reported the following incident from the life of Giordano: When Mala vita was listed in 1892, Giordano was invited to play some pieces on the piano at the club Dauno in Foggia. But when he looked up in the lecture during the game from the middle of the piano, the composer remarked that some people sat down at the tables to play cards instead of listening. This incident led to a lengthy break between Giordano and his native city, with whom he was reconciled again until 1928.

More recently, an aria from Andrea Chénier, " La mamma morta ", sung by Maria Callas, has become known to a wider public through its use in the film Philadelphia (directed by Jonathan Demme, 1993).

Works (selection)

  • Stage Works Mariana (1888, not listed )
  • Mala vita (1892 ), recast as Il voto (1897 )
  • Regina Diaz ( 1894)
  • Andrea Chénier (1896 )
  • Fedora (1898 )
  • Siberia (1903 ), revised version 1927
  • Marcella (1907 )
  • Mese mariano (1910 )
  • Madame Sans - Gêne (1915, German premiere Breslau 1930)
  • Giove a Pompei ( 1921)
  • La cena delle beffe (1924 )
  • L' astro magico, Ballet (1928 )
  • Il Ré (1929 )
  • La festa del Nilo (unfinished)
  • Come Farfalla, romanza (about 1891)
  • Amor di madre, romanza (1901 )
  • Crepuscolo triste, romanza (1904 )
  • Soffire by non, romanza (1917 )
  • Be liriche (1919)
  • E ' l' april che torna a me (1932 )
  • Tre vocalizzi nello stile moderno (1932 )
  • Inno del décennale (Hymn for the tenth anniversary of the seizure of power of Benito Mussolini ) for choir and orchestra (1933 )
  • Mensa regalis, Lauda for choir and organ (published in Bergamo 1951)
  • Songs
  • Piedigrotta, Symphonic Poem
  • Gerbes du feu, Scherzo for Piano (1890)
  • Idillio for piano (1890)
  • Cocktail, Danza for piano (1906 )
  • Largo e Fuga for strings, harp and organ or harmonium (published in Milan 1949)