Franco Alfano (8 March 1875 – 27 October 1954) was an Italian composer and pianist. Best known today for his opera Risurrezione (1904) and above all for having completed Puccini's opera Turandot in 1926. He had considerable success with several of his own works during his lifetime.
Alfano was born in Posillipo, Naples. He attended piano lessons given privately by Alessandro Longo, and harmony and composition respectively under Camillo de Nardis (1857–1951) and Paolo Serrao at the conservatory San Pietro a Majella in Naples. Later, after graduating, he pursued further composition studies with Hans Sitt and Salomon Jadassohn in Leipzig. While working there he met his idol, Edvard Grieg, and wrote numerous piano and orchestral pieces.
From 1918 he was Director of the Conservatory of Bologna, from 1923 Director of the Turin Conservatory, and from 1947 to 1950 Director of the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro. Alfano died in San Remo.
He completed his first opera, Miranda, still unpublished, for which he also wrote the libretto based on a novel by Antonio Fogazzaro in 1896. His work La Fonte Di Enschir (libretto by Luigi Illica) was refused by Ricordi but was presented in Wrocław (then Breslau) as Die Quelle von Enschir on 8 November 1898. It enjoyed some success.
Cyrano de Bergerac followed. This based on the famous play by Edmond Rostand and composed to the French libretto by Henri Cain. It had its Italian version premiere in Rome in January 1936, and its French version premiere in Paris four months later. It was recently revived by the Kiel Opera (Germany), the Montpellier Radio Festival (France) and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, starring Plácido Domingo in the title role.
In 1921, La Leggenda di Sakùntala appeared, and while it was successful enough to have Arturo Toscanini recommend Alfano to complete Puccini's posthumous Turandot, the performance materials were thought destroyed in an air raid during the Second World War. Alfano reconstructed it in 1952 as Sakùntala, after Abhijñānaśākuntalam (The Recognition of Sakuntala), the Sanskrit play by Kalidasa. Subsequently, the original version was recovered in 2005, with the two versions available for performance today. The second version of Sakùntala will be performed in New York City by Teatro Grattacielo in the fall of 2013.
In Fanfare 's issue of September/October 1998-99, it was asserted that Alfano's reputation suffers because of several things. Firstly, that he should not be judged as a composer on the basis of the task he was given in completing Turandot (La Scala, 25 April 1926). Secondly, that we almost never hear everything he wrote for Turandot since the standard ending heavily edits Alfano's work. Thirdly, [...]it is not his conclusion that is performed in productions of Turandot but only what the premiere conductor Arturo Toscanini included from it... Puccini had worked for nine months on the following concluding duet and at his death had left behind a whole ream of sketches... Alfano had to reconstruct...according to his best assessment...and with his imagination and magnifying glass" since Puccini's material "had not really been legible."[clarification needed]
"Alfano's reputation has also suffered [IC:along with Mascagni], understandably, because of his willingness to associate himself closely with Mussolini's Fascist government."
Alex Ross, in The New Yorker, notes that a new ending of Turandot composed by Luciano Berio premiered in 2002 is preferred by some critics for making a more satisfactory resolution of Turandot's change of heart, and of being more in keeping with Puccini's evolving technique.
List of works
See also List of operas by Alfano.
- Cyrano de Bergerac; William Johns, Olivia Stapp, Gianfranco Cecchele, Miti Truccato Pace, Ezio Di Cesare, Alfredo Giacomotti - Director: Maurizio Arena - Orchestra RAI di Torino - Live - 2 CD Opera d'Oro IOD (2004);
- Resurrezione; Magda Olivero, Giuseppe Gismondo, Nucci Condò, Anna Di Stasio - Director: Elio Boncompagni - Live - 2 CD Opera d'Oro IOD (2003);
- Sakùntala; Sakùntala: Celestina Casapietra – Il re: Michele Molese – Prijamvada: Laura Didier Gambardella – Anusuya: Adriana Baldiseri – Kanva: Aurio Tomicich – Durvasas: Ferruccio Mazzoli – Harita: Mario Rinaudo – Il giovane eremita: Ezio Di Cesare – Lo scudiero: Carlo Micheluzzi – Un pescatore: Vincenzo Tadeo – Una guardia: Alberto Caruzzi; Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Roma della Rai, director: Ottavio Ziino CD Tryphon TRC-9612;
- Liriche da Tagore; Duo Alterno: Tiziana Scandaletti, soprano - Riccardo Piacentini, pianoforte CD Nuova Era 7388 (Torino 2004).
Notes on recordings
- 1925 Sonata for Cello and Piano world premiere recording by cellist Samuel Magill and pianist Scott Dunn on the Naxos label
- 1932 Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano world premiere recording by violinist Elmira Darvarova, cellist Samuel Magill and pianist Scott Dunn on the Naxos label (2009)
- 1923 Sonata for Violin and Piano world premiere recording on Naxos. Elmira Darvarova, Violin and Scott Dunn, Piano
- 1945 Piano Quintet world premiere recording on Naxos with Elmira Darvarova, Violin, Mary Ann Mumm, Violin, Craig Mumm, Viola, Samuel Magill, Cello, and Scott Dunn, Piano
- Dryden, Konrad, CPO recording of Cirano di Bergerac
- Andreas K. W. Meyer (trans. Susan Marie Praeder), CPO opera set notes for Cyrano de Bergerac, pp. 29-30.
- Dryden, Konrad, p. 33, adds that the project, reluctantly undertaken, resulted in "near blindness in his right eye, requiring three months spent in darkened rooms."--Symphonies 1 and 2 [reviewed by Barry Brenesal in the same issue of Fanfare, pp. 103-04]
- Ross, Alex, New Yorker, 27 February 2006, pp. 84–85
- on andante.com Retrieved 1 April 2013
- "Elmira Darvarova". Naxos. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
- Dryden, Konrad (2010) Franco Alfano: transcending Turandot. Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press ISBN 0-8108-6970-5
- Posillipo—Leipzig—Miranda (1875–1896) -- La fonte d'enscir (1897–1899) -- Resurrezione and Il principe Zilah (1899–1909) -- L'ombra di Don Giovanni (1910–1914) -- La leggenda di Sakùntala, Tagore and tragedy (1915–1921) -- Turandot (1921–1925) -- Mary Garden—Vienna—Rostand (1926) -- Mussolini and Balzac (1927) -- Metropolitan Opera premiere (1928) -- A tale of two operas (1928–1929) -- France and an American saint (1930–1931) -- Cyrano de Bergerac (1932–1933) -- Palermo and Don Juan de Manara (1934–1941) -- Wartime phoenix (1942–1947) -- Final years (1948–1954) -- Appendix A: Opera plots—Appendix B: The Alfano opus.
- Franco Alfano discography
- Franco Alfano list of works
- Another page about Franco Alfano
- Free scores by Franco Alfano at the International Music Score Library Project