Franco Alfano (March 8, 1875 – October 27, 1954) was an Italian composer and pianist. He was born in Posillipo, near Naples, and today he is best known for completing Puccini's unfinished opera Turandot in 1926.
Until recent times, musical histories usually gave the year of Alfano's birth, incorrectly, as 1876. He attended piano privately under Alessandro Longo (1864-1946), and harmony and composition respectively under Camillo de Nardis (1857-1951) and Paulo Serrao (1830-1907) at the conservatory San Pietro a Majella in Naples. Later, after graduating in 1885, he pursued further composition studies with Hans Sitt (1850-1922) and Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902) in Leipzig. While working there he met his idol, Edvard Grieg, and wrote numerous piano and orchestral pieces. He completed his first opera, Miranda, for which he also wrote the libretto, after a novel by Antonio Fogazzaro and which is still unpublished, in 1896. His work La Fonte Di Enschir (libretto by Luigi Ilca) was refused by Ricordi but was shown in Wrocław (then Breslau) as Die Quelle von Enschir on 8 November 1898, enjoying some success.
The following three operas are usually considered as his most important:
Risurrezione, 1904, based on Tolstoy. It was later also sung by Magda Olivero.
Cirano di Bergerac, after 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 Metropolitan Opera, New York, starring Plácido Domingo in the title role.
La leggenda di Sakùntala, 1921, presented revised in 1952 as Sakùntala, after Abhijñānaśākuntalam (The Recognition of Sakuntala), the Sanskrit play by Kalidasa.
From 1918 on, he was Director of the Conservatory of Bologna, and he directed the Turin Conservatory from 1923. Alfano died in San Remo.
List of works
1896 Miranda Opera
1898 La Fonte di Enschir Opera
1899 Four Romanian Dances for piano
1901 Napoli Ballet
1901 Lorenza - Ballet
1904 Risurrezione Opera
1909 Suite Romantica for orchestra (became Eliana)
1909 Il principe di Zilah - Opera
1910 Symphony n. 1
1910 I Cavalieri e la Bella Opera (never completed)
1914 Lombra di Don Giovanni Opera (later Don Juan de Manara)
1918 Tre poemi by Tagore for voice and piano
1918 Quartet n. 1 for strings
1919 Six songs for voice and piano
1921 La Leggenda di Sakùntala Opera
1923 Eliana Ballet from Suite Romantica
1923 Sonata for violin and piano
1925 Sonata for cello and piano
1926 Turandot finale Opera
1926 Quartet n. 2 for strings
1927 Madonna Imperia Opera
1928 Tre Liriche by Tagore for voice and piano
1930 Lultimo Lord Opera semiseria
1930 Himno al Libertador dedicated to Simon Bolivar
1933 Vesuvio Ballet
1933 Symphony n. 2
1935 Divertimento for piano and chamber orchestra
1936 Nuove Liriche Tagoriane for voice and piano
1936 Quintet for piano and strings
1936 Cirano di Bergerac Opera
1939 Tre Nuove Liriche
1941 Don Juan de Manara Opera
1943 E Giunto il Nostro Ultimo Autunno for voice and piano
1945 Quartet n. 3 for strings
1948 Cinque Nuove Liriche Tagoriane for voice and piano
1949 Il Dottor Antonio Opera
1950 Vesuvius Opera for radio (from Vesuvius)
1952 Sakùntala Opera (reconstruction)
1953 Sinfonia Classica from Symphony n. 1
Other works: Suite Adriatica; Intermezzi for Strings; Ninna-Nanna Partenopea.
Symphonies 1 and 2 [reviewed by Barry Brenesal in the same issue of Fanfare, pp. 103-4].