Catalani, Alfredo

BORN 19 Jun 1854, Lucca, Toscana - DIED 7 Aug 1893, Milano, Lombardia
CAUSE OF DEATH tuberculosis
GRAVE LOCATION Lucca, Toscana: Cimitero, Via Tagliate di Sant'Anna

Alfredo Catalani won a first prize in counterpoint and composition at the Pacini Music Institute in Lucca. After that he studied at the Conservatory in Milan under Antonio Bazzini (1818-1887). Bazzini introduced him to the salon of Countess Maffai and there he met Amilcare Ponchelli.

Catalani didn't like the verismo style that was popular at the time and chose a more traditional manner of composing. His "Dejanice" was performed in 1883 and performed by Gustav Mahler in Leipzig. By the time he was thirty he suffered from tuberculosis and his hair was grey. He felt guilty about the continuing love affair with Teresa Garbagnati, who was the wife of his friend Benedetto Junck (1852-1903). The Juncks had supported him early in his career.

In 1886 his opera "Edmea" was staged in Milan with Virginia Ferni-Germano singing the part of Edmea. The premiere of a revised version took place on 4 November 1886 in Turin with Arturo Toscanini conducting. This was the first professional appearance as a conductor in Italy for Toscanini. Also in 1886, Catalani succeeded Ponchielli as composition teacher at the Conservatory in Milan.

His best known works were his operas "Loreley" and "La Wally". "Loreley" was first performed on 16 February 1890 in Turin with Virginia Ferni-Germano as Loreley. La Wally, with a libretto by Luigi Illica, premiered at La Scala in Milan on 20 January 1892 with Hariclea Darclée as Wally. After he coughed up blood when he was travelling by train it became clear he suffered from tuberculosis. He returned to Milan where he was looked after by Illica, Toscanini and Teresa Junck.

Catalani died in 1893, aged only 38. He was buried at the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan, but on 16 March 1894 his remains were transferred to his native Lucca. Arturo Toscanini had become such a close friend of Catalani that he named his own daughter Wally after Catalani's opera.

Related persons
• was a friend of Toscanini, Arturo

27/2/1886Premiere of Catalani's "Edmea" at La Scala in Milan. Virginia Ferni-Germano sang the part of Edmea. Other performers were Gaetano Ortisi, Giovanni Paroli and Francesco Pozzi. the librett owas by Antonio Ghislanzoni. 
4/11/1886Toscanini conducts Catalani's "Edmea" at the Teatro Carignano in Turin. It was the world premiere of a revised version and the first performance as a professional conductor in Italy by Toscanini. Like in the premiere of the original version the part of Edmea was performed by Virginia Ferni-Germano. [Toscanini, Arturo]
16/2/1890Premiere of Catalani's "Loreley" at the Teatro Regio in Turin. Virginia Ferni-Germano sang the part of Lorely. Further parts were performed by Eugène Durot and Leonora Dexter. Edoardo Mascheroni) was the conductor. The libretto was written by Angelo Zanardini, Carlo D'Ormeville and others. 
20/1/1892Premiere of Catalani's "La Wally" at La Scala in Milan. It was conducted by Edoardo Mascheroni and Hariclea Darclée sang the part of Wally. Other singers were Ettore Brancoleoni, Virginia Guerrini and Adelina Stehle. The libretto was by Luigi Illica and was baded on Wilhelmine von Hillern's novel "Die Geier-Wally". 


The grave of Alfredo Catalani at the Cimitero di Lucca.
Picture by Androom (15 Feb 2018)


The grave monuments of Alfredo Catalani and Alfred Émilien de Nieuwerkerke at the Cimitero di Lucca.
Picture by Androom (15 Feb 2018)


Memorial sculpture for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alfredo Catalani in Lucca.
Picture by Androom (16 Feb 2018)


Cimitero Monumentale di Milano - Wikipedia
Arturo Toscanini - Wikipedia
La Wally - Wikipedia
Loreley (opera) - Wikipedia
Edmea - Wikipedia

Caulaincourt, Armand Augustin Louis de, Duc de Vicenza

Published: 25 Nov 2018
Last update: 03 Apr 2023