Alberto Franchetti


(18 September 1860 — 05 August 1942)

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Alberto Franchetti was born in Turin on 18th September 1860. His mother, herself an accomplished pianist, introduced him to music right from an early age. Later he studied in Venice, where his family had moved, under Nicolò Coccon and Federico Maggi. In 1884 he went on with his studies in composition first in J. K. Rheinberger’s class at the Munich Conservatory and later at the Dresden Conservatory under the guidance of F. Draeseke and E. Kretschmar, taking his diploma in 1885.

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Franchetti began composing music - initially romanze and music for choir - while still a student; his first major work was Sinfonia in si minore (1884), which he wrote for an exam. Greeted with enthusiasm right from its first performance at the Conservatory of Dresden, the piece enjoyed a similar response in subsequent performances by the orchestras of Gotha, Leipzig, Munich and New York. This was just the beginning of a highly distinguished career. On 11th February 1888 Asrael, a legend in four acts by Ferdinando Fontana was performed in Reggio Emilia, produced and staged entirely by the composer’s father. In just two performances the opera was so successful that it was immediately sought after by the most famous opera houses in both Europe and the Americas: Hamburg, Budapest, Prague, New York, Lisbon and Buenos Aires. The audience at the dress rehearsal in Reggio Emilia included Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Martucci.

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Franchetti’s subsequent operas were Cristoforo Colombo, produced in Genoa in 1892, Fior d’alpe (Teatro alla Scala, 5th March 1894) and Il signor di Pourceaugnac (Teatro alla Scala, 10th April 1897) none of which were met with great enthusiasm.

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It was with Germania (libretto by Luigi Illica, Teatro alla Scala, 1902) that Franchetti once again enjoyed international acclaim, thanks not least to the exceptional interpretations of Arturo Toscanini and Enrico Caruso.

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On 29th March 1906 the Scala hosted the performance of La figlia di Iorio, a pastoral tragedy in three acts on a libretto by Gabriele D’Annunzio.

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In 1926 Franchetti succeeded Setaccioli as director of the Conservatory of Florence, retiring from the post in 1928.

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He died in Viareggio on 5th August 1942.