I Medici is an opera in four acts composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo, with a libretto by the composer. Set in Renaissance Florence at the court of Lorenzo de' Medici, it was intended as the first part of a planned but unfinished trilogy called Crepusculum. The opera premiered on 6 November 1893 at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan.

I Medici
Opera by Ruggero Leoncavallo
I Medici by Leoncavallo, libretto cover.jpg
Librettto cover published in 1894
LibrettistRuggero Leoncavallo
6 November 1893 (1893-11-06)

Background and performance historyEdit

I Medici was intended as the first part of a planned but unfinished trilogy called Crepusculum, with the second and third operas to be called Savonarola and I Borgia.[1] The word "crepusculum" is Latin for "twilight", signaling the influence of Richard Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (whose fourth installment is called "Twilight of the Gods" (Götterdämmerung)).[2] The remaining two operas were never completed. Leoncavallo sought to create an "epic poem" for the stage.[3] However, one contemporary review of the premiere stated:

In I Medici we have a historical opera like those that have been made many times before and will be hence ... [but] we do not have either an epoch or a set of characters brought truthfully to life; we do not have, in a word, that human counterpart of Wagner's mythological trilogy at which Leoncavallo gazed. [a]

It premièred at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 9 November 1893.[4] It was not successful in its day and has never become part of the standard repertoire. However, it was revived at the Frankfurt Alte Oper in 1993 in a concert version conducted by Marcello Viotti (the opera's first performance in Germany) and was given a fully staged performance in March 2013 at the Theater Erfurt in Erfurt, Germany, conducted by Emmanuel Joel-Hornak.[5]


Roles, voice types, premier cast
Role[4][6] Voice type[4][6] Premiere cast, 9 November 1893[4]
Conductor: Rodolfo Ferrari
Giuliano de' Medici tenor Francesco Tamagno
Lorenzo de' Medici baritone Ottorino Beltrami
Simonetta Cattanei soprano lirico Adelina Stehle-Garbin
Fioretta de' Gori dramatic soprano Adele Gini Pizzorni
Giambattista da Montesecco bass Giovanni Scarneo
Francesco de' Pazzi bass Ludovico Contini
Bernardo Bandini Baroncelli tenor Giovanni Pagliano
Il Poliziano baritone Vittorio Bellati
Archbishop Salviati bass Gaetano Biancardi
Simonetta's mother mezzo-soprano Federica Casali


The opera is set in Renaissance Italy and concerns intrigues centering on the Medici family, and the Pazzi conspiracy. Giuliano de' Medici loves Simonetta Cattanei, who tries to warn him of the conspiracy against his family. But she is killed by Montesecco, a murderer hired by Pope Sixtus V. Giuliano is killed by the conspirators, but Lorenzo de' Medici escapes with the help of the poet Poliziano. He then wins the support of the people, who lynch the conspirators.


A recording of the opera was released in 2010 on Deutsche Grammophon featuring Plácido Domingo as Giuliano de' Medici, Carlos Álvarez as Lorenzo de' Medici, Vitaly Kovalkov as Francesco de' Pazzi, Daniela Dessì as Simonetta Cattanei (Simonetta Vespucci née Cattaneo ) and Renata Lamanda as Fioretta de' Gori. It was recorded in July 2007 at the Teatro Comunale Florence, with Alberto Veronesi conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino .[6]


  1. ^ Original Italian: "In I Medici abbiamo un'opera su sfondo storico come ce ne furono tante prima e come ce ne saranno dopo ... non-abbiamo né un'epoca né un complesso di figure vive e vere; non-abbiamo, in una parola, quel contrapposto umano alla trilogia mitica del Wagner a cui il Leoncavallo ha mirato."[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ John Alexander Fuller Maitland; et al., eds. (1904). Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1911 ed.). New York: The Macmillan company. p. 680.
  2. ^ Dryden, Konrad (2007). Leoncavallo: Life and Works. Scarecrow Press.
  3. ^ a b Depanis, Giuseppe (12 November 1893). "Il libretto e la musica di I Medici". La Stampa (in Italian). p. 2.
  4. ^ a b c d Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "I Medici, 9 November 1893". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  5. ^ Molke, Thomas (5 April 2013). "Die Medici (I Medici)". Online Musik Magazin . Retrieved 25 December 2016 (in German).
  6. ^ a b c Robert J. Farr (August 2010). "Review – Leoncavallo – I Medici". MusicWeb International. Retrieved 30 August 2010.

External linksEdit