Stefano Donaudy

Stefano Donaudy was a minor though significant composer, active in the 1890s and early twentieth century. He wrote mostly vocal music, dividing his efforts between opera and song, though he did produce some chamber and orchestral music. Donaudy was born in Palermo, Sicily, on February 21, 1879. Little information is available about his life, though it is known that he studied with composer Guglielmo Zuelli, a rival of Puccini in the latter's early years. It seems that Donaudy was precocious, composing songs in his early teens. A number of sources date his most popular song, Vaghissima sembianza (Graceful Appearance), to 1892, when the composer was only 13. The song would be recorded by a range of iconic singers over the years, including Caruso, Gigli, Bergonzi, Lanza, Bocelli, and Sumi Jo. Donaudy's younger brother Alberto (1880-1941) had literary inclinations and thus usually served as Stefano's librettist for opera or his poet for song. Stefano had some success with his operas, which included Falchetto and Ramuntcho. His 1918 publication of art songs, 36 Arie di Stile Antico, a set that contained such popular numbers as the aforementioned Vaghissima sembianza, as well as O Del Mio Amato Ben and O Bei Nidi D'amore, also brought him considerable recognition. In 1922, Donaudy's final opera, La Fiamminga (The Flemish Woman), was premiered at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. It was a decided failure and probably the worst disappointment of the composer's career. Donaudy was so disheartened at its rejection that he abandoned composition for the remainder of his life. He died on May 30, 1925.

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