A Tribute to Marcello Giordani
By Jonathan Tichler
The beloved Sicilian tenor Marcello Giordani, who passed away in October 2019, stars as Pinkerton in this week’s stream of Madama Butterfly (pictured above) and also appeared in seven other Live in HD presentations over the course of his Met career. He made his company debut in 1995 as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, and it remained his most frequent role with the company, as he went on to sing it 36 times. Puccini and Verdi provided most of his bread-and-butter roles: his Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West (pictured below), des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, Calàf in Turandot, Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra, and the title role of Ernani are all documented in HD.
With his ringing high notes, he also made forays into bel canto repertoire, singing the titular pirate Gualtiero in Bellini’s Il Pirata in its 2002 Met premiere with Renée Fleming, and Edgardo to Natalie Dessay’s Lucia in the new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor that opened the 2007–08 season. In French repertoire, notable successes included des Grieux, again opposite Fleming, in Massenet’s Manon, and the title roles of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust (streamed earlier) and Benvenuto Cellini (in its 2003 company premiere).
All told, he appeared more than 240 times with the Met in 27 roles, including in two company premieres, five new productions, and the opening nights of two seasons. In a 2008 interview, he recalled his company debut: “I still remember how my legs were shaking when I sang my first rehearsal on the stage of the Met. I thought: What am I doing here? Is it a dream or is it reality?” Luckily for opera fans, Giordani’s Met legacy of HD performances and radio broadcasts is a happy reality and a thrilling reminder of his golden voice.
Jonathan Tichler is the Met’s Photo Editor.