Biography of Francesco Cilea (1866-?)

Italian composer specializing in the composition of opera, which is often included in the generation of musicians called "Giovane Scuola" '(joven escuela'), also known as Verismo. Francesco Cilea was born in 1866 in the town of Palmi, in the region of Calabria. After studying piano with Beniamino Cesi and composition with Paolo Serrao at the Conservatoire of Naples, against the will of her family, that intended to study law, Cilea became Professor of harmony and piano. From this moment always would make compatible his teaching career with his work as a composer. His first opera, entitled Gina, was premiered at the Conservatory of Naples. The second, Tilda, can be considered as the first authentic work verista of this composer, at least by its subject, because of the efforts of a prostitute to save a rival at the expense of its own destruction. However, Francesco Cilea is nowadays best known for operas as L´Arlesiana, composed on a work by the French writer Alphonse DAUDET, which the composer continued reform over the years, even since its premiere had taken place. Some fragments extracted from this opera has been part of the standard repertoire of concerts, such as the arias Esser madre e an inferno and which begins with the words Anch´io vorrei sleep cosi, better known by the nickname of "Federico's lament". But, undoubtedly the best-known work of Francesco Cilea is entitled Adriana Lecouvreur, that would soon overtake success La L'arlesiana. This work was premiered in Italy almost immediately once the composer concluded, in the year 1902 and, shortly afterwards, also in different foreign theatres, like Lisbon, Buenos Aires, New Orleans, New York and Petersburgo. Following this success, Cilea premiered glory and, years later, Il matrimonio selvaggio, an opera that failed to be released. On his last play, La rosa di Pompei, abandoned it without having it completed.

In addition to his operatic production, Francesco Cilea composed several works for Chamber Ensemble, as well as multiple scores for piano.


T. d´Amico: Francesco Cilea. (Milan, 1960.)

E. Moschini: Sulle opere di Francesco Cilea. (Milan, 1932.)

R Rensis: Francesco Cilea. (Palmi, 1950).