La Gioconda : Work information

Amilcare Ponchielli ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Gena Dimitrova (Soprano), Orchestre Symphonique de la Radio Bulgare, Rouslan Raïchev (Conductor)

This work

Work name
La Gioconda
Work number
1876-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Forlane CI
Ivan Pastor
Recording date
1995-01-01 00:00:00

Track listing

  • Suicidio 4:19 min


Although one of the most important Italian opera composers of the mid nineteenth century, Ponchielli is more famous now for his pupils, Puccini and Mascagni among them. The only work of his to remain in the repertory is La Gioconda.

Composed in 1876 to a libretto by Boito, it is loosely based on Hugo's Angelo, tyran de Padoue. The opera tells the story of a street singer  whose blind mother is denounced as a witch by the Inquisition. The girl is given a chance to save her mother by returning the amorous advances of the Inquisitor. When she refuses, both she and her mother die.

La Gioconda returns to Grand Opera in a stylised way and, in doing so, brings it to a glorious conclusion. It contains music of great sensitivity and originality, but also anticipates future developments; Verdi's character Iago is surely the musical successor to Ponchielli's Barnaba. Implicit in the vocal style of La Gioconda are the beginnings of the verismo opera that flourished in the 1890s.

The Composers

Amilcare Ponchielli

Born in Cremona in 1834, Ponchielli studied at the Milan Conservatoire between the years of 1843 and 1854.  There he wrote, collaboratively, the first of his many stage works; the operetta Il Sindaco Babbeo was the work of four students, Ponchielli included.  A stint as organist at S. Ilario, Cremona, came between his days at the conservatoire and a life as composer.  He first enjoyed success with I promesi sposi (1872) but is now remembered largely for La Gioconda (1876) and for teaching both Puccini and Mascagni as a professor at the Milan Conservatoire.

MIDI FILE - from "La Gioconda": Danza delle Ore (7'13'')