Not Just ‘Andrea Chénier’ – The Other Umberto Giordano Operas

By David Salazar

You know “Andrea Chénier,” but how many other Umberto Giordano operas can you name? Some might remember “Fedora,” or even “Siberia,” thanks to Sonya Yoncheva’s recent performance, but chances are, you might not know that in sum, Giordano composed a total of 13 operas, more than Puccini.

But unfortunately, as was the case with a number of other composers of the era not named Puccini, fame came from one work. In Giordano’s case, that opera is “Andrea Chénier.” Here is a look at the other works by Giordano, born on August 28, 1867.


Giorando wrote this one-act opera as part of a submission to a competition, ultimately losing out to “Cavalleria Rusticana,” but still managing sufficient interest as to get a commission for his second opera.

Mala Vita / Later Revised as Il Voto 

This opera follows a man looking to reform a prostitute if he can be cured of his tuberculosis. It was a scandalous work in its original form, forcing the rewrite 10 years later.


The other popular Giordano opera, this one is best known for the tenor aria “Amor Ti Vieta.” Enrico Caruso gave the premiere and encored the aria on the opening night of the performance. Since then many famous artists have taken on the opera including Mirella Freni, Renata Scotto, Katia Ricciarelli, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, and José Cura, among others.


The opera takes place in a prison camp in Siberia whereupon a woman seeks to free her lover. It premiered in 1903 at La Scala and then got an American premiere in 1906 in New Orleans.


The opera premiered in 1907 at the Teatro Lirico in Milan.

Mese Mariano

Premiering in 1910, this lyric sketch follows a woman visiting an orphanage to see her child. It lasts a little more than half an hour. It is quite similar to Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” and could make for a rather interesting double bill with the latter work.

Madame Sans-Gêne

This opera premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1915 and takes place during the Napoleonic era with the French leader among the cast of characters in the drama.

Giove a Pompei

 This opera premiered in 1921 at the Teatro La Pariola in Rome.

La Cena Delle Beffe

The best regarded of Giordano’s late operas, this work premiered in 1924 at La Scala with Arturo Toscanini in the pit. It narrates the rivalry between Giannetto Malespini and Neri Chiaramantesi for the affections of the beautiful Ginevra and a revenge plot, all of them ultimately ending in madness and tremendous tragedy.

Il Re 

The composer’s final completed opera premiered at La Scala in 1929 with Toscanini conducting.


Giordano left “La Festa del Nilo” incomplete.


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