The son of a chemist who wished him to become a doctor, the young Giordano was instead enrolled at the Royal College of San Pietro at Majella, Naples, on the advice of a family friend who had recognised his musical leanings. A favourite pupil of the famous Maestro Paolo Serrao, in 1888, even before completing his courses, he took part in the Sonzogno Competition for a one-act opera (the competition which was to bring forward Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana), where his Marina came sixth and aroused the interest of the publisher Edoardo Sonzogno, who commissioned from him the opera Mala Vita, based on the play of the same name by Salvatore di Giacomo.

His great success came in 1896 with the resounding acclaim by public and critics of Andrea Chénier at the Teatro alla Scala.

In the same year Giordano married Olga Spatz, daughter of the owner of the Grand Hotel de Milan, the prestigious hotel in which Verdi resided when in Milan. The ageing Maestro looked on the Giordano couple with affection and was unusually ready with advice and suggestions for the young composer.

Giordano’s subsequent operas (Fedora, Siberia, Madame Sans-Gêne, La Cena delle Beffe, Il Re) also entered the repertoire of the principal theatres of the world.

  • Poster by Marcello Dudovich for Fedora at the Teatro Verdi of Padua (1899)
  • An advertisement for the first complete edition on disc of Andrea Chénier (1921)
  • Poster by Marcello Dudovich for the first performance of Siberia (1903, La Scala, Milan)
  • Poster by Galileo Chini for the first performance of La cena delle beffe (1924, La Scala, Milan)
  • Some great interpreters of Giordano's operas: Lina Cavalieri and Enrico Caruso in Fedora, Maria Callas in Fedora, Franco Corelli in Andrea Chénier, José Carreras in Andrea Chénier, Mirella Freni in Fedora, Giorgio Zancanaro and Daniela Dessì in La cena delle beffe