Franco AlfanoItalian Born 08 Mar 1875 Died 27 Oct 1954
Franco Alfano was born in Posillipo, near Naples, on 8 March, 1875.
He studied piano in Naples with Alessandro Longo and later attended the Conservatorio di San Pietro a Maiella. There he studied harmony with Camillo de Nardis and composition with Paolo Serrao.
In 1895 Alfano moved to Leipzig, where he continued his studies with Sitt and Jadassohn. The following year he moved again, this time to Berlin, where he began a career as a pianist.
His first Opera, "Miranda", was composed during this period.
After writing a second Opera in 1898, "La Fonte di Enschir", which was poorly received at its premiere in Breslan, Alfano moved to Paris in the year 1900.
There he wrote two successful ballets for the Folies Bergères: "Napoli" and "Lorenza", both performed for the first time in 1901.
He later moved to Moscow, where he wrote his best known Opera, "Risurrezione", based on Lev Tolstoj's work.
This Opera gave Alfano international recognition and was acclaimed as a masterpiece on its premiere at Turin's Teatro Vittorio Emanuele on the 30th of November, 1904.
"Risurrezione", which was performed widely in Europe (Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Paris) and overseas, remains Alfano's best known work.
The Opera has been labeled as an example of the typically Italian "Verismo" genre; Alfano's style, however, was already evolving beyond 'Verismo', with strong European modernistic influences, not unlike those found in the works of Puccini's maturity (La Fanciulla del West, La Rondine).
Alfano moved back to Italy in 1914, taking up residence in the coastal resort of San Remo. The town was to remain his home for the rest of his life.
He held various prestigious teaching posts throughout Italy, including a professorship at the Liceo of Bologna, where he taught composition, and the directorship of the Conservatorio di Bologna, which he assumed in 1918.
He became the director of the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi of Turin in 1923, a position he would hold until 1939.
He was appointed superintendent of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo in 1940, a post he held for two years.
Alfano also served as director of the Opera section of the "Accademia di Santa Cecilia" in Rome (1942-1947) and of the Conservatorio Rossini of Pesaro (1947-1950).
Despite his large output, which includes twelve Operas (fourteen if the unfinished "I Cavalieri e la bella" and the re-writing of "Sakùntala" are taken into consideration), four ballets and various other works, Alfano is today remembered primarily for his completion of Puccini's "Turandot".
Maestro Toscanini, a personal friend of Puccini's and Tito Ricordi, the head of the famous music publishing house, chose Alfano for the thankless task of transforming Puccini's sparse notes into the final part of the Opera primarily on the strength of the music of "La Leggenda di Sakùntala" which in its oriental setting and lyrical expanse, paralleled, at times very closely, the structure and colour of "Turandot".
It is unfortunate that the version of Alfano's finale for "Turandot" which has become "official" is the one which was ruthlessly abridged by Toscanini before the Opera premiere in 1926.
When compared with the original, full Alfano ending, the abridged version suffers from evident lack of continuity and evenness.
"La Leggenda di Sakùntala" had premiered at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna on the 10th of December of 1921.
The Opera, which is set in ancient India, shows great mastery of the orchestral and vocal elements. Its melodic structure is complex but coherent and unveils new subtleties upon repeated hearings.
Its libretto, by Alfano, is a remarkably faithful reflection of the original literary work by Kalidasa, with some changes in the final Act, required to bring the duration of the Opera to a manageable length.
The original score was destroyed during the second world war. Alfano reconstructed the Opera in 1951-52 using as a basis the unpublished score adaptation for pianoforte as well as his recollection of the original.
He titled the reconstructed work "Sakùntala". The Opera received its premiere at the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome on the 9th of January, 1952 under the baton of conductor Gianandrea Gavazzeni.
Franco Alfano died in his beloved San Remo on the 27th of October, 1954.Show more