Alfano, Franco

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Alfano, Franco

Alfano, Franco, eminent Italian composer and teacher; b. Posilippo, March 8, 1875; d. San Remo, Oct. 27, 1954. He studied composition with Serrao in Naples, and with Jadassohn and Sitt in Leipzig. From the beginning of his musical career, Aliano was interested in opera. His first stage work, Miranda, was written when he was barely 20; another opera, La fonte di Enchir, followed (Breslau, Nov. 8, 1898). In 1899 he went to Paris and became fascinated by light theater music. While in Paris he wrote Napoli, a ballet in the folk manner, which was staged at the Folies-Bérgères (Jan. 28, 1901), proving so successful that it ran for 160 successive performances. Returning to Italy, he began work on an opera based on Tolstoy’s novel Resurrection. It was premiered as Risurrezione in Turin (Nov. 4, 1904) with sensational acclaim; the American premiere (Chicago, Dec. 31, 1925) was equally successful; there were also numerous performances in Germany and France. The opera was widely praised for its dramatic power and melodic richness in the best tradition of realistic Italian opera. Aliano continued to compose industriously for another half- century, but his later operas failed to equal his earlier successes. Among these later works are II Principe Zilah (Genoa, Feb. 3, 1909), L’ombra di Don Giovanni (Milan, April 3, 1914), La leggenda di Sakuntala (Bologna, Dec. 10, 1921; score destroyed during World War II; recomposed as Sakuntala, 1952), Madonna Imperia, lyric comedy (Turin, May 5, 1927), L’Ultimo Lord (Naples, April 19, 1930), Cyrano de Bergerac (Rome, Jan. 22, 1936), and II Dottor Antonio (Rome, April 30, 1949). He completed Puccini’s last opera, Turandot, adding the last scene. His Hymn to Bolivar for Chorus and Orch., written for the centennial of Bolivar’s death, was performed in Caracas, Venezuela, on Dec. 22, 1930. Among his other works were 3 syms. (1909, 1932, 1934), 3 string quartets, a Violin Sonata, a Cello Sonata, and a ballet, Vesuvius (1938; a symphonic poem was drawn from it in 1946). He was director of the Liceo Musicale in Bologna (1918–23) and of the Turin Cons. (1923–39), superintendent of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo (1940–42), and acting director of the Rossini Cons. in Pesaro (1947–50).


A. della Corte, Ritratto di F. A. (Turin, 1935).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire