Ruggero Leoncavallo

RUGGERO LEONCAVALLO is an Italian composer and librettist born in Naples. „My father was the president of the tribunal, my mother was the daughter of a famous Neapolitan artist. I started studying music in my hometown and at the age of 8, I entered the Conservatory, at the age of 16 I received a Maestro diploma… I was subsequently admitted into the Faculty of Philology of the University of bologna to expand my knowledge. I studied with the Italian poet giosuè Carducci and at the age of 20 I got my PhD in literature. Then I did an artistic tour of Egypt to visit my uncle, who was a musician in the court. The sudden war and the british occupation of Egypt thwarted all my plans. Moneyless, dressed in an Arab robe, I barely managed to leave Egypt and found myself in Marseilles, where my wanderings began. I gave music lessons, played in brothels, composed songs… “- this is how Ruggero leoncavallo describes himself. Returning to his homeland, the composer witnessed the triumphant fame of the first verse operaCavalleria Rusticana by his contemporary, the composer Pietro Mascagni (it premiered in 1890). Leoncavallo turned his attention to the opera genre which was new to him. The opera Pagliacci brought Leoncavallo fame, it is one of the most popular titles in the opera repertoire. The construction of the libreto and score took him only five months. „It was staged with great success in Milan in 1892 under the direction of the young Arturo Toscanini. Together with Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, the two operas are a triumph for the new art of Italian verismo. As critics pointed out, the success of the opera was largely due to the fact that the composer possessed exceptional literary talent and sensitivity. Giacomo Puccini, a contemporary and friend of his, wrote of Leoncavallo: „His spirit is as strong as of a lion, his heart is as delicate as of a child”. After Pagliacci, the composer created 19 more operas, but none of them was as successful as that one. Leoncavallo wrote works in various genres: he had composed historical dramas, dramatic tragedies, comic operas, operettas and more. He is also the author of symphonic works, piano ballet works, piano pieces, romances and songs.

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