Ponchielli, Amilcare



Italian operatic composer of considerable talent; in his day ranked next to Verdi by the Italians. Born at Paderno Fasolara, near Cremona. Was a pupil of the Milan Conservatory from 1843 to 1854. For a time he was organist at Cremona, and there in 1856 brought out his first opera, I promessi sposi, but the libretto being poor it failed. In 1861 he produced La Savojarda, later revised as Lina. Roderico, re de' Goti, La Stella del Monte, and Bertrand de Born followed; but his name was not made until 1872, when he was gHven funds to revise and reproduce his first opera at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan. Its success was immediate. In 1873 he wrote a seven-act ballet, Le due gemelle, for La Scala, and followed it by the operas, I Lituani; La Gioconda; II Figliuol Prodigo;and Marion Delorme. The opera, I Mori Valenza, was found after his death, which occurred at Milan. The text of La Gioconda, his best work, was written by Arrigo Boito, and is based on Hugo's tragic story, Angelo, Tyran de Syracuse. It was given in London in 1883, and had its first production at New York the same year. Ponchielli's style is unconventional for Italian Opera, being more like that of Wagner. His music is melodious, fanciful and dramatic. Besides operas and the ballet already mentioned he brought out another ballet, Clarina; the scherzo or farce, II parlatore eterno; a cantata to the memory of Donizetti; II 29 maggio, a funeral march for Manzoni; a hymn for Garibaldi; and music for the Cathedral at Piacenza, of which he was made chapelmaster in 1881.