Alfredo Catalani (19 June 1854 – 7 August 1893) was an Italian operatic composer. He is best remembered for his operas Loreley (1890) and La Wally (1892). La Wally was composed to a libretto by Luigi Illica, and features Catalani's most famous aria "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana." This aria, sung by American soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez, was at the heart of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s 1981 cult movie Diva. Catalani's other operas were less successful, partly hampered by inferior libretti.
Life and career
Despite the growing influence of the verismo style of opera during the 1880s Catalani chose to compose in a more traditional manner. As a result his operas have largely lost their place in the modern repertoire, even compared to those of Massenet and Puccini, whose style his works most closely resemble.
The influence of Amilcare Ponchielli can also be recognized in Catalani's work. Like Ponchielli, Catalani's reputation now rests almost entirely on one work. However, while La Wally enjoys occasional revivals, Ponchielli's La Gioconda has always been the more popular opera of the two (287 performances to date at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, as opposed to only four for La Wally).
In 1893, upon his premature death from tuberculosis in Milan, Catalani was interred in the Cimitero Monumentale, where Ponchielli and conductor Arturo Toscanini also lie. Toscanini was a strong advocate of Catalani's music and named his daughter Wally in recognition of the composer's most successful opera. Toscanini recorded the prelude to Act IV of La Wally and the "Dance of the Water Nymphs" from Loreley in Carnegie Hall in August 1952 with the NBC Symphony Orchestra for RCA Victor.
- La falce ("The Sickle"), Milan, 19 July 1875
- Elda, Turin, 31 January 1880 (radically revised as Loreley)
- Dejanice, Milan, 17 March 1883
- Edmea, Milan, 27 February 1886
- Loreley, Turin, 16 February 1890
- La Wally, Milan, 20 January 1892
- Sinfonia a piena orchestra ("Symphony for Full Orchestra"), 1872
- Il Mattino, sinfonia romantica ("Morning", Romantic symphony), 1874
- Ero e Leandro, poema sinfonico ("Hero and Leander", Symphonic tone poem), Milan, 9 May 1885
- Berrong, Richard M. (editor and translator). The Politics of Opera in Turn-Of-The-Century Italy: As Seen Through the Letters of Alfredo Catalani. 1992. (Studies in the History and Interpretation of Music)
- Pardini, Domenico Luigi, Relton, Valentina (translator), Chandler, David (editor), Alfredo Catalani: Composer of Lucca, 2010.
- Alfredo Catalani
- Opera Italiana Detailed biography
- Free scores by Alfredo Catalani at the International Music Score Library Project
- Paolo Petronio,Alfredo Catalani, musical biography, Ed.Italo Svevo,Trieste,2009
- Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez sings aria from "La Wally" in "Diva" (1981) on YouTube