- Lorenzino de'Medici, 1857

"The Carnival Season of 1857-8 opened on Tuesday ... with Elisa Velasco [alternative title for the Florence revival], a superb opera by Pacini, and one that for a time made me stagger in my Verdi faith. It is so fresh, so original, and combines musical science so well with ear-haunting and simple melody that it appears to me astonishing that it has not obtained a reputation out of Italy. [...] In the second act the soprano appears, opening with a grand scena and aria, followed by a duo by soprano and baritone. A concerted piece in the style of the favorite quintet in Lucia, only vastly superior to this master-piece of Donizetti, closes the act. [...] But Elisa Velasco has been withdrawn to make room for I Lombardi, and Pacini is forced to yield before Verdi. It must be said, the latter shines but poorly in comparison .."

Dwight's Journal of Music, July 2, 1858.

Downloads of various videos on YouTube

  • Play. La sacerdotessa d'Irminsul (1820): "Esci o fatal memoria dell'adorato oggetto". Ekaterina Shelehova (Екатерина Шелехова), soprano.
  • Play. La Vestale (1823): "Io son la rea". Olga Makarina, soprano.
  • Play. L'ultimo giorno di Pompei (1825): "Da te l'estrema volta". Iano Tamar, soprano, Raul Gimenez, tenor.
  • Play. Il convitato di pietra (1832): "Sento brillarmi il core". Mariella Devia, soprano.
  • Play. Irene o l'assedio di Messina (1833): "Se un mio desir ... Cedi al duol ... Ira del ciel". Cecilia Bartoli, mezzo-soprano. (Also available on cd).
  • Play. Saffo (1840): "Ai mortali, o crudo, ai numi". Adelaide Negri, Piero Visconti, Gabriele Floresta. Catania, 1983.
  • Play. Maria, regina d’Inghilterra (1843): final scene: "Ciel, quest'amara lagrima". Nelly Miricioiu, soprano.
  • Play. Luisetta o La cantatrice del Molo [di Napoli] (1843): "Venne un di da Palestina". Dame Malvina Major, soprano.
  • Play. Stella di Napoli (1845): "Amor tel dissi ... ove colui dimora ... Ove t'aggiri o barbaro". Clara Pòlito, soprano.
  • Play. Bondelmonte (1845): Duetto "Fra l'ombra dunque, fra il silenzio ...". Alex Richardson, tenor; Corey McKern, baritone.
  • Play. La regina di Cipro (1846): "Allor ch'è a mezzo la notte bruna". Julie Fuchs, soprano.
  • Play. Malvina di Scozia (1851): Moma's cavatina Act I "Fra lo splendore e i cantici". Hayden DeWitt, mezzo-soprano.
  • Sinfonia e Cori per la tragedia di Sofocle "Edipo re" (1847). Schola S.Rocco - Orchestra del Teatro Olimpico - Emanuele D'Aguanno, tenor. Francesco Erle, conductor. Teatro Olimpico (Vicenza). 2008 live recording.
  • Play. Part 1: Sinfonia
  • Play. Part 6: Finale, Coro V
  • Play. 1825. Anonymous: Quando lo miro. Mariella Cullagh, soprano. (Also available on cd).
  • Play. Dopo tante e tante pene (for Rossini's Tancredi). Cecilia Bartoli. (Also available on cd).
  • Play. Sonata (Clarinetto in la, corno di bassetto e pianoforte). Clarinetto Luigi Lettiero, Corno di bassetto Giovanni Lettiero, Pianoforte Anserigi Tarantino. Reg. Radio Vaticana.
  • Play. Franz Liszt: Grande fantaisie sur des thèmes de l'opéra Niobe de Pacini, divertissement sur la cavatine 'I tuoi frequenti palpiti', S419. Michael Fennelly, piano, 2008.

Alexander Weatherson on operas by Giovanni Pacini

Articles by Professor Alexander Weatherson, Chairman of the Donizetti Society, London U.K.
  • Il falegname v Il falegname.
    Both Giovanni Pacini and Gaetano Donizetti wrote an opera called Il falegname di Livonia. The opera by the first of these composers was by far the most brilliant and successful, but it is the opera by the second that has survived to our day, thanks to the kudos that goes with a great reputation.
  • One size fits all: Pacini's Gli arabi nelle Gallie
    Giovanni Pacini's melodramma Gli arabi nelle Gallie ran to hundreds of revivals but was never the same twice, there were always changes to the music, every aria, every duetto, terzetto, every coro, concertato and every finale was rewritten and rewritten repeatedly according to the whim of the composer and those of the singers he served. After three decades the extra music was three times the length of the original score. But it was no simple caprice, the opera offered itself as the utter antithesis of the frozen hand of authenticity we expect in the repertoire of our day.
  • Nell'orror di mie sciagure: Pacini, parody and Il pirata
    Vincenzo Bellini and Giovanni Pacini, operatic rivals and concittadini (both born in Catania) began on the wrong foot, Bellini resented the arrogance and ease with which his high-profile rival monopolised the repertory. Pacini considered the upstart Bellini to be musically deficient, his I cavalieri di Valenza was written to torment the younger composer - a hilarious and provocative parody of Il pirata played out on the stage of La Scala with a near-identical cast but a confrontation that ended badly - unleashing a hornet's nest of acrimonious division in the critical ranks that still has echoes. This paper was originally published in an Italian translation in 2004.
  • Lorenzino ... de'Pacini?: Lorenzino de'Medici
    Between 1840 and 1860, at the very apex of his career, Giovanni Pacini wrote a series of pseudo-historic immensely emotional operas which were sung by the greatest artists of the day. These works supplied the backbone of opera in Italy at a time when Donizetti and Verdi were intent on conquering audiences abroad. Their invention and variety are astonishing and made an indelible impact. Lorenzino de'Medici with its violent climax and genuine Italian credentials is a typical example of the genre.
  • Pacini's Amazilia: a transatlantic choice
    The French-based Rubini society has come up with the ingenious idea of resurrecting Giovanni Pacini's remarkable Amazilia to celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America.
  • Allan Cameron, Crumvello, and La fuga di Carlo Stuart
    It has to be said at once that the Pacini/Piave Allan Cameron was born under an unpromising star, intended for La Fenice on 21 March 1848 its début was under threat from the start owing to the political disorders of that Year of Revolutions. Though it was actually staged, if briefly, it passed more-or-less unnoticed in the insurrectional floodtide that swept over the watery city, Pacini almost forgets it in his memoirs. Its true prima came three years later in that same theatre on 11 January 1851 with much the same cast as originally intended.
  • Stella di Napoli: to Naples with love?
    A poet nell'imbarazzo; a lyrical impasse no less - with a Scylla et Charybdis of a problem - on one side an intransigent Giovanni Pacini digging in his heels over the two operatic texts he had been offered and on the other an intrusive Saverio Mercadante - angry and impatient for a decision, Salvadore Cammarano made his opinion known in a letter of pained reproof to the difficult catanese maestro on 5 September 1845.
  • Online version of Alexander Weatherson's Giovanni Pacini: His Life and Music

For further reading

  • Obscure Composers
    Here is the link to the Naples-website edited by Jeff Matthews of which the first page of the section 'Obscure composers' is dedicated to Giovanni Pacini.
  • Review of Maria, regina d'Inghilterra in Giessen, 2012

Select discography

The majority of the recordings listed below have, either complete or partly, been uploaded on YouTube.

Complete operas:
  • La poetessa idrofoba (1816). Orchestra giovanile del Festival Teatro Sperimentale, Pesaro. Roberto Rizzi Brignoli. Annamaria Di Micco, Tiziana Fabbriccini, Alessandro Codeluppi. 2001.
  • Alessandro nell'Indie (1824). London Philharmonic Orchestra, Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, David Parry. Bruce Ford, Jennifer Larmore, Laura Claycomb, Dean Robinson, Mark Wile. Opera Rara, 2007.
  • L'ultimo giorno di Pompei (1825). Orchestra del Teatro Bellini di Catania, Giuliano Carella. Raul Gimenez, Iano Tamar, Nocolas Rivenq, Gregory Bonfatti, Sonia Lee. Dynamic, 1996.
  • Il convitato di pietra (1832). Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Daniele Ferrari.Leonardo Cortellazzi, Geraldine Chauvet, Zinovia-Maria Zafeiriadou, Ugo Guagliardo, Naxos, 2008.
  • Carlo di Borgogna (1835). Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, David Parry. Bruce Ford, Elizabeth Futral, Roberto Frontali, Jennifer Larmore. Opera Rara, 2002.
  • Saffo (1840). Orchestra e Coro del Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Franco Capuana. Leyla Gencer, Louis Quilico, Franca Mattiucci, Tito Del Bianco. Hunt Prod., 1967.
  • Saffo (1840). Orchestra and Chorus of the Vienna State Opera, José Collado. Montserrat Cabalé Raquel Pierotti, Antonio Ordonez, Enrric Sarra, Premiere Ltd, 1989.
  • Saffo (1840). National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Wexford Festival Opera Chorus. Maurizio Bennini. Francesca Pedaci, Carlo Ventre, Roberto de Candia, Mariana Pentcheva. Marco Polo, 1995.
  • Maria, regina d'Inghilterra (1843). Philharmonia Orchestra, Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, David Parry. Nelly Miricioiu, Bruce Ford, Mary Plazas, José Fardilha, Alistair Miles. Opera Rara, 1998.
  • Maria Tudor (1843). English Symphony Orchestra, David Parry.Penelope Walker, Keith Lewis, Christopher Blades, Marilyn Hiil Smith, Ital. Opera Rarities, 1983.
  • Medea (1843). Orchestra Sinfonica di Savona, Coro S. Gregorio Magno Trecate, Richard Bonynge. Jolanta Omilian, Marcello Lippi, Sergio Panajia, Maria Cristina Zanni. Arkadia, 1993.
  • Pacini rediscovered. Annetta e Lucindo (1813), Adelaide e Comingio (1817), Cesare in Egitto (1821), Temistocle (1823), Alessandro nell'Indie (1824), Il contestabile di Chester (1829), Carlo di Borgogna (1835), Maria regina d'Inghilterra (1843), Allan Cameron (1848). Opera Rara, 2006.
  • Paventa insano. Cesare in Egitto (1821), Il contestabile di Chester (1829), Il corsaro (1831), Stella di Napoli (1845), Allan Cameron (1848). Opera Rara, 2006.
  • Tenor arias. La fidanzata corsa: Son giunto! Marcello Giordani, tenor. Orchestra del Teatro Bellini di Catania. Naxos, 2004.
  • Stella di Napoli. Saffo: Flutto che muggi ... Teco dall'are pronube ... L'ama ognor qual io l'amai. Joyce DiDonato. Erato, 2014.
  • La potenza d'amore (Il salotto II): Triste istoria; La rampogna. Opera Rara, 1999.
  • Il sibilo (Il salotto IV): Come nube che leggera; Per la figlia d'un barone; Il pellegrino; La Vucca; Se di note all'aer nero; T'amai, con te dividere; Bella, nel di novella; Il paggio; La rimenbranza; Il bacio; Ecco alfin'. Opera Rara,
  • La partenza (Il salotto VI). La sventura. Opera Rara, 2004
  • Notturno (Il salotto VIII): Amore e innocenza. Opera Rara, 2006.
  • Ora divina (Il salotto IX): La tradita. Opera Rara.
  • La serenata (Il salotto XI): Il soldato. Opera Rara.
  • Maria. Dopo tante e tante pene (for Rossini's Tancredi). Cecilia Bartoli. Universal music, 2006.
  • Divertimento for clarinet, cello and piano in D minor. MusicArt Trio. Animato ACD6096, 2007.
  • Requiem (1864), Confitebor, Sinfonia Dante. Orchestra Lirico Sinfonia del Teatro del Giglio, Cappella Musicale S. Cecilia di Lucca. Gianfranco Cosmi. Bongiovanni, 1989.

Performances of Pacini's operas in the 20th and 21st centuries

  • 1909  Saffo, Palermo, Italy
  • 1911  Saffo, Florence, Italy
  • 1911  Saffo, Milan, Italy
  • 1911  Saffo, Rome, Italy
  • 1939  Saffo, Catania, Italy
  • 1967  Saffo, Naples, Italy
  • 1982  Saffo, New York, U.S.A. (concert performance)
  • 1983  Saffo, Catania, Italy
  • 1983  Maria, regina d’Inghilterra (Maria Tudor), London, U.K.
  • 1987  Saffo, Barcelona, Spain
  • 1989  Saffo, Vienna, Austria
  • 1993  Medea, Savona, Italy
  • 1995  Saffo, Wexford, Ireland
  • 1996  L'ultimo giorno di Pompei, Martina Franca and Catania, Italy
  • 1997  Saffo, Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • 1999  Amazilia, Mayenne, France (preliminary version with piano accompaniment)
  • 2001  La poetessa idrofoba ossia Dalla beffa il disinganno, Pesaro, Italy
  • 2004  Il corsaro, Parma, Italy (concert performance with piano accompaniment)
  • 2006  Alessandro nell'Indie, London, U.K. (concert performance)
  • 2008  Il convitato di pietra, Bad Wildbad, Germany
  • 2012  Maria, regina d'Inghilterra, Giessen, Germany
  • 2013  Il convitato di pietra/Don Giovanni, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2015  Il convitato di pietra, Pisa and Lucca, Italy
  • 2016  Malvina di Scozia, New York (concert performance with piano accompaniment)
  • 2019  Maria, regina d’Inghilterra, Boston, Odyssey Opera, Huntington Avenue Theatre
  • 2021 Medea, Hildesheim, Germany, Theater für Niedersachsen