Obituary: Lamberto Gardelli

LAMBERTO GARDELLI, the Italian-born conductor and composer, had the inestimable advantage of beginning his career at the Rome Opera as assistant to Tullio Serafin, himself once assistant to Toscanini. Like his master, Gardelli was a magnificent interpreter of Italian opera in general, and of the operas of Verdi in particular, although he worked for many years outside Italy, in Stockholm (he became a Swedish subject), Copenhagen, Budapest and on the international opera circuit.

His many records, in particular those of early Verdi operas, won him a great many admirers. He composed five operas, but only L'impresario delle Americhe, the second part of a trilogy, was performed. It was shown on Budapest television in 1982.

Gardelli was born in Venice in 1915 and trained at the Liceo Musicale Rossini in Pesaro, studying piano, double-bass, singing and composition as well as conducting. During his eight years as assistant to Serafin in Rome, he also worked with the composers Pietro Mascagni and Francesco Cilea. Gardelli made his official conducting debut in 1944 at the Rome Opera with La Traviata, but he is reputed to have conducted other operas before then, notably Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, coached by the composer, in 1939.

In 1946 Gardelli became a resident conductor with the Swedish Royal Opera in Stockholm, where he mainly worked in the Italian repertory. Those were exciting times, when Jussi Bjorling might sing Cavaradossi in Tosca, or Rudolfo in La Boheme, or Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci at the same performance, or Birgit Nilsson might appear as Lady Macbeth. Gardelli also conducted at the 18th-century Drottningholm Theatre, and I remember a particularly successful performance of Domenico Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto, which was repeated over several years between 1947 and 1952.

Moving from Stockholm to Copenhagen, in 1955 Gardelli became chief conductor of the Danish State Radio Orchestra. He made guest appearances in Helsinki and Berlin, then in 1961 became music director of the Budapest Opera, where he continued to conduct into the mid-Nineties.

Gardelli conducted an exciting Macbeth in 1964 at Glyndebourne, where he returned in 1968 to conduct Donizetti's Anna Bolena. Having made his US debut in 1964 at Carnegie Hall, New York, with a concert performance of Bellini's I Capuleti ed i Montecchi, he first conducted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1966, making his debut with Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chenier, followed by Rigoletto and Madama Butterfly.

Gardelli came to Covent Garden in 1969, when he conducted a fine performance of Verdi's Otello. The London audience, used to the force, or violence even, of conductors such as Georg Solti in this opera, were at first taken aback by the gentleness of Gardelli's reading, but to anyone who had heard Serafin conduct Verdi, it caused no surprise. The exquisite orchestral detail of the last act won over the most sceptical member of the audience. Another Verdi opera on which Gardelli threw new light was La forza del destino, which he conducted in Budapest in 1964, and again in 1990, when he was 75 years old.

After a serious illness in the late 1980s, Gardelli returned to Budapest, where during the next few years he conducted La fiamma by Ottorino Respighi, La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli. Adriana Lecouvreur, another old favourite, which he also conducted at Zurich in 1994, and Moise et Pharaon, produced in 1992 to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Rossini. La fiamma, and another opera by Respighi, Semirama, are two of his best recordings.

Among the astounding series of early Verdi operas conducted on record by Gardelli, which include Attila, I Lombardi and I masnadieri, perhaps the most interesting is Il corsaro, for the reason that few people have had a good word to say for this work, but in Gardelli's hands it is transformed, if not into a masterpiece, then into a recognisable part of the Verdi canon.

Elizabeth Forbes

Lamberto Gardelli, conductor and composer: born Venice 8 November 1915; died Munich 17 July 1998.



Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.


Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower