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 Obituary, Marcello Giordani (1963-2019)

Marcello GiordaniThe Italian tenor Marcello Giordani, acclaimed in verismo, Verdi and Puccini roles, died of a heart attack on Saturday aged 56.

Born in Sicily in 1963, Giordani began his working life in banking but moved to Milan to study singing seriously in his early twenties and made his professional opera debut in Spoleto aged 23 as the Duke in Rigoletto; two years later he appeared at La Scala for the first time as Rodolfo in La bohème, the role in which he would make his main stage debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1993. With his robust, open sound and powerful, ringing upper register, Giordani soon found himself in demand for heavier spinto roles such as Cavaradossi and Calàf, but by the early 1990s he was concerned that his voice was ageing prematurely and relocated to New York to overhaul his technique with the American voice-teacher Bill Schuman; he continued to sing regularly during his quest to regain what he called the ‘sunshine’ in his voice, focusing on pure lyric and bel canto roles such as Nemorino, Talbot in I Puritani and Gennaro in Lucrezia Borgia rather than the more dramatic repertoire which he had been encouraged to take on when based in Italy.

The relocation to the US heralded the beginning of a long-standing relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, where Giordani would notch up almost 250 performances over the course of two decades in roles including Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini, Gualtiero in Bellini’s Il Pirata (both house premieres of the works) and Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra; his decision to bide his time before tackling the heftier Italian roles paid off when he reached his forties, and he enjoyed considerable success at the Met as Dick Johnson, Radamès, Calàf, and Ernani. (His small but distinguished discography includes Met appearances as Des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut from 2008 and Calàf in a 2009 production of Turandot, conducted by Andris Nelsons). In 2010 he set up the Marcello Giordani Foundation, a non-profit organisation to support and promote emerging singers, and though he continued to perform regularly in Europe during his fifties, the last few years of his career were primarily focused on nurturing young talent.

Giordani died suddenly at home in Sicily, surrounded by his family; he is survived by his wife Wilma (whom he met whilst performing in Lucerne in the late 1980s) and their two sons. The Metropolitan Opera dedicated yesterday’s performance of Turandot to his memory.

Marcello Giordani - a selected discography

Marcello Giordani (tenor), Orchestra and Chorus of the Bellini Theatre Catania, Steven Mercurio

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Marcello Giordani (tenor), Orchestra and Chorus of the Bellini Theatre Catania, Steven Mercurio

Available Format: CD

Marcello Giordani (Gaston), Marina Mescheriakova (Hélène), Roberto Scandiuzzi (Roger); Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Fabio Luisi

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC

Karita Mattila (Manon Lescaut), Marcello Giordani (Des Grieux), Dwayne Croft (Lescaut); Metropolitan Opera, James Levine

Available Format: DVD Video

Maria Guleghina (Turandot), Marcello Giordani (Calàf), Marina Poplavskaya (Liù), Samuel Ramey (Timur); Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet, Andris Nelsons

Available Format: DVD Video

Fiorenza Cedolins (Butterfly), Marcello Giordani (Pinkerton), Juan Pons (Sharpless), Francesca Franci (Suzuki); Zurich Opera House, Daniel Oren, Franco Zeffirelli

Available Format: DVD Video

Violeta Urmana (Leonora), Marcello Giordani (Don Alvaro), Carlo Guelfi (Don Carlo), Julia Gertseva (Preziosilla), Roberto Scandiuzzi (Padre Guardiano), Bruno De Simone (Fra Melitone); Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Zubin Mehta, Nicolas Joël

Available Format: 2 DVD Videos