‘A tenor with a golden voice’: Opera world mourns Italian singer Marcello Giordani

The opera world paid tribute over the weekend to Italian tenor Marcello Giordani, who died of a heart attack at his home in Sicily.

'A tenor with a golden voice': Opera world mourns Italian singer Marcello Giordani
Marcello Giordani in The Girl of the Golden West. Photo: Winnetka Library/Marty Sohl via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

He was 56. Only last month, he had been playing the role of Calaf in Puccini's opera Turandot at two open-air theatres in Sicily.

“The Met family sends its condolences to all of Giordani's family and friends,” the New York Metropolitan Opera said. Giordani debuted with the Met in 1995, going on to give nearly 250 performances in 27 roles there.

Soprano Angela Georghiu said of her former operatic partner: “I am devastated by the very sudden and early loss of my dear friend and great colleague, Marcello Giordani, a tenor with a golden voice.”

“Your voice will live eternally in our hearts!” she said, recalling performing with Giordani in New York, London, Madrid and Tokyo.

Giordani's broad repertoire ranged from bel canto roles in the operas of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini to more dramatic parts of Verdi, Puccini and Berlioz.

After studies in Catania, Sicily, and Milan, he won the Spoleto singing competition in 1986, catapulting him into a breakthrough role in Verdi's Rigoletto. Giordani made his US debut at Portland, Oregon, in 1988 and the same year sang at Milan's La Scala.

In 2010, he set up the Marcello Giordani Foundation to encourage young opera singers at the beginning of their career. 

READ ALSO: Inside Casa Verdi, Italy's retirement home for musicians

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Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.