Umberto Giordano's life
Umberto Giordano was born in Foggia, Italy in 1867. Despite his parent's objections, he enrolled at the Naples Conservatory in 1882, where he studied for seven years. During this time he composed his first opera, Marina, for a competition sponsored by the publisher Edoardo Sonzogno. Giordano placed sixth in the competition, but Sonzogno commissioned him to write his next work, Mala vita, which premiered in Rome in 1892. He began composition of his best known opera, Andrea Chénier in 1894, which premiered at Teatro Alla Scala in 1896. It was performed throughout Europe as well as in New York in the following years, becoming his best known opera. Fedora, Giordano's next opera, was completed in 1898. Although it did not attain the enormous success of the previous work, it was well-received and is the second best known of his operas. Giordano's next work, Siberia, was also successful, but after its premiere in 1903 his career went into decline until it was eventually resurrected with the success of La cena della beffe in 1924. His final composition for the stage, Il re, is a one-act opera which premiered in Milan in 1929. Giordano died in Milan in 1948. Giordano's works are typical of the operatic style known as “Verismo”. This genre became popular during the 1890's and it was an attempt to put realistic characters, situations, and emotions on stage and they involved contemporary settings and costumes, with characters drawn from everyday life (especially the lower classes). Giordano dies in Miln in 1948.
Marina (1888), Mala Vita (1892), Regina Diaz (1894), Andrea Chénier (1896), Fedora (1898), Il Voto (revisione de Mala Vita, 1902), Siberia (1903), Marcella (1907), Mese mariano (1910), Madame Sans-Gêne (1915), Giove a Pompei (1921), La cena delle beffe (1924), Il re (1929), La festa del Nilo (incomplete).
Giordano's Andrea Chénier
After a more romantic approach with Regina Diaz (1894), an opera which didn't receive much success at the time, Giordano went back to musical verism, a genre which better exalted his composition skills. In fact, he wrote the opera which will then become his most famous work: Andrea Chénier, based on a libretto by Luigi Illica. It's in operas like this one that Giordano used a vast range of instruments and confirmed the typical characteristics of his creative genius: rich melodies and a strong drama drive. Andrea Chénier is based on the life of the French poet, which was already characterized by all the elements of opera: unreciprocated love, high ideals and great disillusionments and unfair deaths. All enchanted by the background of such a tormented period as the French Revolution. Its very first debut, on 28 th March 1896 at Teatro alla Scala, conducted by Rodolfo Ferrari, was an enormous success. Among the many curiosities on this opera we need to highlight that one of the most famous aria of the work, La mamma morta (Act III), was interpreted also by the great Maria Callas and it was then included in the score for the film Philadelphia. Just like in many other compositions written after Tristan und Isolde, the chord so-called Tristan-Akkord, echoes in Andrea Chénier during the scene of the tribunal (Act III). As usual, this particular chord had the aim to evoke the strong connection between love and death: as soon as Gerard reveals to Chénier the presence of Maddalena in the prison, the poet is finally ready to die.
"Amor ti vieta" ("Love forbids you") is the most famous aria from the opera Fedora, the second most famous opera by Umberto Giordano. This short aria (approximately 1:51 minutes) is sung by Count Loris Ipanov when he declares his love to Fedora in Act II. It is often sung by tenors in recitals, especially as an encore piece. It was performed by Enrico Caruso during the premiere night and it quickly became one of the favourite pieces of the public. The aria can be listened to on Volume 1 of Enrico Caruso - The Complete Opera Recordings, where the famous singer is accompanied on the piano by Giordano himself. Giordano fell in love with the character of Fedora after watching Victorien Sardou's play of the same name which originated his opera. However, it wasn't easy for the young and at the time unpopular composer to obtain the rights to go ahead with the composition and he had to wait to become well-known to write the beautiful music sheet.