December 27, 1919
Page 1

Famous Impresario, Champion of Progress in Opera-Giving, Passes Away in Chicago After Long Battle with Death—Fortune Gallo Heads the List of Possible Successors—Campanini’s Eventful Career as a Conductor in this Country and Abroad—Horatio W. Parker, the American Composer, and Luigi Illica, the leading Italian Opera Librettist, Die Within the Week

THREE famous musical personalities passed away on three successive days last week. On Dec. 17 occurred the death of Luigi Illica, the most famous opera librettist in Italy; on the next day, Horatio W. Parker, one of the foremost of American composers and among the first to receive European recognition, died after three months’ poor health; and on Friday, Dec. 19, Cleofonte Campanini, world-famous impresario and conductor, succumbed to double pneumonia, following a prolonged illness that took its rise in nervous exhaustion from over-work.
From his twenty-third year, the operatic worlds of two continents knew the impress of Cleofonte Campanini’s dynamic vitality, his splendid vision, and his instant response to the stimulus of the new idea; from the day that he took the conductor’s desk at Parma, his birth-place, to the hours just before his passing, when his thought was still of the future of the company he had carried to fame, he labored unceasingly to advance the art of opera-giving. His activities were various. First known as one of the greatest of conductors, he became one of the greatest impresarios; for, to an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject, and a genius for conducting, he added a capacity for organization, a passion for artistic detail, and a flair for the discovery of vocal and dramatic talent.
Campanini was born on Sept. 1, 1860, of a famous musical family and he married in 1887 into one equally famous. His brother, Italo Campanini was the leading tenor of his day; his wife, Eva Tetrazzini, was a celebrated singer, and her sister is Luisa Tetrazzini whose immense fame was originally contributed to by her brother-in-law’s activities. Mme. Eva. Tetrazzini-Campanini has sung several times m New York; the last time, in 1908, was at a gala performance of “Andrea Chenier,” instituted by Oscar Hammerstein to do honor to her husband’s prowess as conductor of the Manhattan Opera.
Campanini’s Career
Originally, the young Campanini was trained as a violinist. As such, he studied at the Parma Conservatory; a fellow-student being Arturo Toscanini, with whom he ultimately disputed honor as the greatest of Italian conductors. Soon the first violin in the famous old Teatro Regio in Parma, he became assistant conductor, and finally as conductor, in 1883, he directed “Carmen” with his brother Italo under his bâton as Don José. It was his conducting at this time that so impressed Henry E. Abbey, then impresario of the Metropolitan, that Mr. Abbey brought him over to New York in 1883 as assistant to Vianesi. On the occasion of Marcella Sembrich’s American début in “Sonnambula,” Campanini conducted with marked success. When his brother Italo attempted unsuccessfully to produce opera in 1887, Cleofonte was associated with him; and the experience was repeated as again and again the young conductor essayed to manage artistic organizations. He had taken his own orchestra on tour through Italy when he was only twenty-one; and as the years passed and his fame increased, he became known not only in theaters and opera houses of Italy, but in Spain, France, Portugal, England and South America as a conductor of transcendent gifts. La Scala associated him with Giulio Gatti-Casazza for several years; and from that great operatic center, Oscar Hammerstein persuaded him in 1906 to come once more to New York, as chief conductor of the new Hammerstein opera company. Until 1909 he held that position, conducting at Covent Garden, London during the summer seasons.
“To give good opera, first get your conductor,” was one of the intrepid Oscar’s mottoes; and in Campanini he had much more, as Hammerstein openly admitted. Campanini’s theatrical experiences in Italy had developed in him a genius for stage management; and the selection of artists, the direction of rehearsals, the choice of repertoire, all could be and often were left to his capable hands. Together, he and Hammerstein introduced America to modern French opera composers; to the works of Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Charpentier and Debussy; and to the transcendent art of ensemble as it had not heretofore been was known in opera. Mary Garden, Maurice Renaud, Tetrazzini, Gilibert, Gerville-Reache, Dalmores, Dufranne, Bonci, and McCormack were introduced or reintroduced to the American public at this time; and later on, when as impresario, Campanini gathered together many of the same artists into the reconstituted Chicago company, he further showed his gift of discriminating choice in singers by bringing out Raisa and Galli-Curci, on whose eminence ever since it is unnecessary to comment.
Becomes Head of Chicago Company
It has been said that a difference with Mr. Hammerstein as to the relative importance of French and Italian opera sand singers led to Campanini’s leaving the Hammerstein forces in 1909. Be that as it may, when the Metropolitan Company put Andreas Dippel in charge on Hammerstein’s selling out, the Italian conductor was promptly called back from Naples, where he had gone to direct at the San Carlo; and when the Chicago Philadelphia Company ended its existence under that name, it was reorganized by a syndicate under the name of the Chicago Opera Association, with Campanini at its head, not only as conductor, but as manager-in-chief. Said a New York critic of him soon after, “This remarkable man seems to enjoy having doubled his duties,” and the fine pitch to which the company attained under his management soon justified that enjoyment. New York had learned to look forward to the weekly visits of the company under its other name, and, since 1917, when the Lexington Theater housed them for a six weeks’ season, the Manhattan Island metropolis echoed regularly the plaudits of the “home town,” Chicago.
Said MUSICAL AMERICA once of Campanini’s personality, in an interview with him:
“There radiates a force of energy [from him] that can only be called enormous. At rehearsals he has often seemed to the writer what Mrs. Malaprop said of Cerberus, ‘seven gentlemen in one.’ One critic said of him, ‘Campanini is everything except the scenery and the costumes, and he’d be those if he could.’ From his orchestra, from the chorus, every detail of whose work he has under his hawk-like glance even while drilling his musicians in a difficult phrase; from the artists whom he studies as carefully as his scores—from all he demands their very best.” As to his diplomacy in dealing with these last, they used to tell a story in Philadelphia of a man who went to Campanini once for an increase of salary and came away with a decrease, but perfectly satisfied that his request had been granted. Perhaps. But at any rate, it can truthfully be told from the writer’s personal observation how kindly and pleasant was the atmosphere where he ruled, “eat up” work though he did, and expected others to. As for forcefulness of personality, when Mary Garden cautions her visitors at rehearsal as she did last year, not to whisper “because Mr. Campanini doesn’t like it,” not much more need be said!
His Boundless Enterprise
Geographical boundaries did not circumscribe Campanini’s love for operatic music. Mascagni’s “Isabeau” and Montemezzi’s” La Nave” were among the novelties of the Italian school introduced this season by him; the Frenchman Maurice Ravel’s “L’Heure Espagnole” and the American John Alden Carpenter’s ballet “The Birthday of the Infanta” were scheduled by him for the same program later this year; De Koven’s “Rip Van Winkle” was also being prepared; and before the Great War broke out, this Italian had had joy in conducting “Tristan,” “Lohengrin” and “Parsifal” in this country, as he had had joy in giving “The Ring,” first to La Scala audiences. That he loved his own country and art, went without saying. The Verdi celebration that he engineered at Parma, in memory of the great master, who had praised his work at La Scala, was only a partial manifestation of his devotion to Verdi. “Falstaff” was said to have been his favorite opera; and at the touching memorial service in Chicago on the Sunday after Campanini’s passing, a score of “Falstaff” lay on the stand, with his conductor’s bàton, for once idle, beside it.
No impresario gave more encouragement than Campanini to the American singer. Carolina Lazzari, Florence Macbeth, Evelyn Herbert, Nina Morgana, Dorothy Jardon, Myrna Sharlow, Cyrena van Gordon, Irene Pavlovska, Edward Johnson and Forrest Lamont were only a few of his “finds” among American artists. A dream of his was to provide grand opera for the masses; only two years ago, he told a critic that if he could get a theater in New York, he would gladly make the experiment of bringing over from Italy singers who would give this country “the grandest of grand opera” at nominal prices.
Gatti-Casazza’s Tribute
Said Gatti-Casazza, manager of the Metropolitan Opera Company, on learning of the death of his former associate:
“He was a great conductor, a great musician. The musical world has suffered a great loss.” And surely the passing of Campanini leaves a gap not easily nor soon to be filled. Vision and insight combined with personality are not often found, and when they are thus united, they make of a man, as they made of Cleofonte Campanini, one of the foremost figures of his time.
His Successor
Reports that a successor to Cleofonte Campanini was about to be selected, were widely current in musical circles this week. Simultaneously with the news of the impresario’s death was published what purported to be an account of Campanini’s deathbed selection. In the story he was reported to have pointed dramatically to Marinuzzi, a conductor whom the maestro engaged on his last trip to Italy, and exclaimed, “there is my successor!” However, it now develops that Campanini, being unconscious for the past few weeks, could not even recognize his wife at his bedside. Several persons more or less widely known in the musical world have made pilgrimages to Chicago in the past couple of weeks, in the interests of their own candidacy, but so far, no selection has been made by the Opera Association Board of Directors. It is understood on excellent authority that the directors will have none but a man of big caliber in the place of their lamented General Director and that they are slowly and deliberately surveying the field in search of a man of this high type. The names of a handful of men of recognized sterling abilities are mentioned freely in this connection.
Gallo Heads the List
Heading the list is Fortune Gallo, whose phenomenal success as impresario of the San Carlo Opera Company has made his name known from ocean to ocean as an opera director of unquestioned artistic and business ability. Gallo is doubtless the best known figure in the country, ranking only second to the general director of the Metropolitan. Whether he would be ready to relinquish his extensive touring enterprises to take the helm of the Chicago company is not known. It is also reported that negotiations have been opened with Charles L. Wagner, the New York concert manager. Other names mentioned are those of Georgio Polacco, now earning new honors as a conductor in France; Max Rabinoff, the impresario of the former Boston Opera forces, now said to be in Paris.


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