Franco Alfano

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Franco Alfano (born March 8, 1875 in Posillipo near Naples , † October 27, 1954 in Sanremo ) was an Italian composer of the late verismo . His best-known work is the opera Risurrezione (Resurrection, based on Tolstoy's novel ).


Alfano was born to an Italian father and a French mother and initially studied piano privately with Alessandro Longo (1864–1945) in Naples, then attended the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella there , where he taught harmony and composition with Camillo de Nardis (1857–1945). 1951) and Paolo Serrao (1830–1907). From 1895 he studied composition with Hans Sitt (1850–1922) and Salomon Jadassohn (1831–1902) at the Conservatory in Leipzig . In Leipzig he met his idol Edvard Grieg and composed various piano and orchestral works.

In 1896 he began a career as a pianist in Berlin . There he also composed his first opera Miranda , which has remained unpublished to this day, based on a libretto by Antonio Fogazzaro . His second opera La Fonte di Enschir (libretto by Luigi Illica ), not accepted by the Ricordi publishing house, was premiered in Wroclaw in 1898 as The Source of Enschir without success. In 1900 he wrote the ballets Napoli and Lorenza for the Folies Bergère in Paris . A short time later he went to Moscow , where he composed his most famous opera Risurrezione (based on Tolstoy's novel Resurrection ). With the world premiere of this opera on November 30, 1904 in the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele (today's Auditorium Rai di Torino "Arturo Toscanini" ) in Turin , Alfano suddenly became famous; the opera began a worldwide triumphant advance through numerous opera houses (up to a performance in New York in 1977).

In 1914 Alfano went back to Italy. There he held various professorships for composition (including in Bologna since 1918 ) and held important positions in Italian musical life: from 1923 to 1939 he was director of the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Turin, from 1940 to 1942 director of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo , from 1942 to 1947 opera director of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome and from 1947 to 1950 director of the Conservatorio Statale di Musica "Gioachino Rossini" in Pesaro .

In addition to these activities, Alfano continued to compose numerous operas, which were premiered at the major opera houses in Italy.

After Giacomo Puccini left his opera Turandot unfinished in 1924 , the conductor Arturo Toscanini, who was friends with Puccini, suggested that Alfano should complete the finale, of which only sketches existed until now. In 1978 the musicologist Jürgen Maehder discovered the complete Alfanos finale, which has been performed in various opera houses around the world since 1983. Toscanini ended the actual premiere of the opera with silent remembrance at the point where Puccini had to finish the composition. In the following performances a version of the finale composed by Alfano, radically shortened by Toscanini, was played. In this abridged form, the work then went around the world - despite some criticism of the dramatic structure of the finale and the quality and gesture of the music - and is likely to be Alfano's most-played composition to this day. Alfano's finale was always performed in full. Many critics saw it as a salvation of honor, as the finale gained dramatic effect and musical cohesion compared to the shortened version.

Alfano lived in Sanremo from 1914, where he died in 1954.


Alfano's style is based on Italian verismo , but also shows more modern elements as well as influences from contemporary composers such as Claude Debussy , Richard Strauss and Rimski-Korsakow .


  • Lorenza (Paris, Folies-Bergère, 1901)
  • Napoli (Paris, Folies-Bergère, 1901)
  • Vesuvius


  • Miranda
  • La fonte di Enschir ( At the sources of Enschir , Breslau 1898)
  • Risurrezione (after Tolstoy , German Resurrection , Turin 1904)
  • Il principe di Zilah (Genoa, 1909)
  • L'ombra di Don Giovanni (Eng. The shadow of Don Giovanni , Milan 1914)
  • La leggenda di Sakuntala (based on Kalidasa , Bologna 1921)
  • Finale to Puccini's Turandot (Milan 1926)
  • Madonna Imperia (based on a story from Balzac's Tolldreisten stories , Turin 1927)
  • L'ultimo Lord (Naples 1930)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (after Rostand , Rome 1936)
  • Il dottor Antonio (Rome 1949)
  • Sakúntala (Rome 1952). Libretto : Franco Alfano. - revision of La leggenda di Sakuntala whose manuscript in World War II was allegedly destroyed, but after retrieving the publisher's archive in 2006 by the Rome Opera under Gianluigi Gelmetti was brought back to Performance
  • I cavalieri e la bella (unfinished)


  • Symphony No. 1 in E, “Classica” (1910/1953) - premiered on April 6, 1912 in Sanremo
  • Symphony No. 2 in C (1931/1932) - premiered on April 5, 1933 in Rome


Web links

Commons : Franco Alfano  - Collection of images, videos and audio files