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Carlo Lombardo...

Carlo Lombardo was born in Naples on November 28, 1869.

Descended from an old noble family of Lucera that migrated to Naples, he was the second son of the Baron of San Chirico, Felice Lombardo and Luigia Malvezzi, of the Bologna nobility. A grand passion for music impelled young
Carlo to enroll at the prestigious San Pietro Academy of Music in Majella, where he graduated as Maestro in 1887, at age twenty.

In that same year, his début was simultaneous with that of his friend Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945). Together, they were engaged as conductors by the Maresca Company for an extended tour of South America. Mascagni, however, decided not to accompany them, and stayed in Italy, soon writing the world-famous opera “Cavalleria Rusticana,” while Lombardo continued on the transatlantic tour.

On his return, he traveled to Milan and interviewed there with the leading music publishers. One day in 1889, while strolling in one of the city’s boulevards, he met Fracasso, another student from the Majella Conservatory, who was on his way to America. Thanks to Fracasso, Carlo Lombardo was introduced to the actor-manager D’Ormeville, who quickly proposed that Lombardo conduct three performances of Verdi’s "La Forza del Destino."

One evening during these performances, Lombardo was approached by the famous theatrical agent Tavernari, who told him that Luigi Maresca was interested in him again, as he was trying to assemble a production of the operetta "The
Gypsy Baron" of Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825 - 1899), with an operatic cast. Lombardo was asked to conduct the première in Italy, in the presence of Strauss. The operetta was an enormous success and Lombardo continued to conduct other operettas for The Maresca Company.

Also from this period, Lombardo’s musical compositions began to be published. His first was a Neapolitan song "Matina Matì,” with text by the poet Salvatore di Giacomo. It was first printed by the "Corriere di Napoli" and then by Ricordi in 1894.

In 1891 Maresca presented a libretto to Lombardo and asked him to write the score. They quickly came to an agreement, Lombardo went to work, and the new operetta, named "Un Viaggio di Piacere" (A Journey of Pleasure), was soon born, playing in Turin with unqualified success.

Soon thereafter Maresca sent him a second libretto, and again Lombardo went to work. Entitled “I Conscritti” (“The Drafted”), quickly became successful, and was produced by numerous companies. In March, 1896 it was produced at
the National Arena of Florence; at the Quirino Theatre in Rome it played 85 performances. Its success was such that Lombardo bought the property from Maresca, revised the script and score, and reworked it under the title
"Accade a Mezzanotte" (“It Happened at Midnight”).

From this point on, Lombardo decided to write operetta both under his own name, as well as the pseudonyms Leblanc and Léon Bard (his family’s coat of arms was in fact a lion).

In the same year, 1896, he presented his operetta in three acts titled “La Milizia Territoriale” (“Territorial Military Service”) with the Calligaris-Gravina Company. The next year they also successfully produced “Le Cinque Parti del Mondo” (“Five Parts of the World”), with Lombardo’s text and music by M. Fernandez. Lombardo continued with Maresca not only as his conductor, but his managing director as well, thanks to his creative approach and enthusiastic initiative. In fact, he ended up founding his own
Publishing Firm, putting his brother Constantino (1882-1960) in charge of Maresca’s orchestra.

When the First World War began, Lombardo headed for the front, but after his valor was confirmed in 1917, there appeared his “La Duchessa del Bal Tabarin.” With a saucy libretto as well as sweet and elegant music, it had all the elements to make this operetta a great success.

In 1918 Carlo Lombardo opened his music publishing house in Milan, and then established branches in Berlin and Paris. He wrote a work concerning nocturnal Paris lowlife, “Madama di Tebe.” In search for quality collaborations, he engaged Mascagni to write music to his libretto for “Sì”,
and Mario Costa to compose “Il Re di Chez Maxime” in 1919.

Two original big hits took the stage in 1922: "Scugnizza" (“The Urchin”)--which used his music together with that of Mario Costa--and "La danza delle libellule" (“The Dance of Dragonflies”), with music of Lehàr as well as some Lombardo melodies.

In 1923 he started a fruitful collaboration with Virgilio Ranzato, a violinist from Milan’s La Scala: together they created the music for "Il Paese dei campanelli" (The Land of Bells) and legends as "Luna- Park" and "Cin-ci-la". In every case Lombardo wrote the libretti as well.

He collaborated with many prominent composers of the period: Pietri (Primarosa, L'isola verde, “Green isle”) , Darclée (Operetta, Zig-Zag), Cuscinà (Miss Italia, Il trillo del diavolo, “The Devil’s Trill”), Mascheroni (Mille e un bacio, “A Thousand and One Kisses”) and the poet Renato Simoni (La casa innamorata, “House in Love”), another big success. Others followed: "Le tre lune", (Three Moons) "L'appuntamento nel sogno" (Appointment in a Dream) and "I mulini di Pit-Lil", (The Windmills of Pit-Lil).

Carlo Lombardo worked indefatigably and became the dominant figure in the “minor lyric” world of operetta. He left this world in 1959, but what remains is the legacy of his unforgettable melodies and stories. Lastly, and most importantly, he has left us his history, which is no less than the history of Italian Operetta.



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