I Medici

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I Medici is an opera composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo, with a libretto by the composer. The opera was intended as the first part of a planned trilogy called Crepusculum, with the second and third operas to be called Savonarola and I Borgia.[1] The word "crepusculum," is Latin for "twilight," signaling the influence of Richard Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (whose fourth installment is called "Twilight of the Gods" (Gotterdammerung)).[2] The remaining two operas were never completed.

Leoncavallo sought to create an "epic poem" for the stage.[3] However, one contemporary review of the premiere stated: "In I Medici we have a historical opera like those that have been made many times before and will be hence ... [but] we do not have either an epoch or a set of characters brought truthfully to life; we do not have, in a word, that counterpart of the mythic trilogy [sic] of Wagner at which Leoncavallo has gazed." ("In I Medici abbiamo un'opera su sfondo storico come ce ne furono tante prima e come ce ne saranno dopo ... non abbiamo né un'epoca né un complesso di figure vive e vere; non abbiamo, in una parola, quel contrapposto umano alla trilogia mitica del Wagner a cui il Leoncavallo ha mirato.").[3]

Performance history[edit]

It premièred at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 9 November 1893.[4] It was not successful in its day and has never become part of the standard repertoire.


Role[4][5] Voice type[4][5] Premiere Cast[4]
9 November 1893
(Conductor: Rodolfo Ferrari)
Giuliano de' Medici tenor Francesco Tamagno
Lorenzo de' Medici baritone Ottorino Beltrami
Simonetta Cattanei soprano lirico Adelina Stehle-Garbin
Fioretta de' Gori soprano drammatico Adele Gini Pizzorni
Giambattista da Montesecco bass Giovanni Scarneo
Francesco Pazzi bass Ludovico Contini
Bernardo Bandini Baroncelli tenor Giovanni Pagliano
Il Poliziano baritone Vittorio Bellati
Archbishop Salviati bass Gaetano Biancardi
Simonetta's mother mezzo-soprano Federica Casali


The opera is set in Renaissance Italy and concerns intrigues centering on the Medici family, and the Pazzi Conspiracy. Giuliano de' Medici loves Simonetta Cattanei, who tries to warn him of the conspiracy against his family. But she is killed by Montesecco, a murderer hired by Pope Sixtus V. Giuliano is killed by the conspirators, but Lorenzo de' Medici escapes with the help of the poet Poliziano. He then wins the support of the people, who lynch the conspirators.


A recording of the opera was released in 2010 on Deutsche Grammophon featuring Plácido Domingo as Giuliano de Medici. It was recorded in July 2007 at the Teatro Comunale Florence.[5]


  1. ^ John Alexander Fuller-Maitland; et al. (eds.). Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1911 ed.). New York: The Macmillan company. p. 680. 
  2. ^ Dryden, Konrad (2007). Leoncavallo: Life and Works. Scarecrow Press. 
  3. ^ a b Depanis, Giuseppe (Nov 12, 1893). "Il libretto e la musica di I Medici". La Stampa (in Italian). p. 2. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Almanacco 9 November 1893" (in Italian). AmadeusOnline. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Robert J. Farr (August 2010). "Review - Leoncavallo - I Medici". MusicWeb International. Retrieved 30 August 2010.