He died at the age of 92, for 20 years he taught opera at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome
” Theater is my life ”, he repeated to those who asked him what was the reason for his existence. Joseph Giardina, the ‘maestro Giardina’, as all the ‘monticians’ who had welcomed him when he came to live in the Monti district in the 1980s, passed away yesterday morning at the Policlinico Umberto I. Born in Guttenberg in 1929 , a small town in New Jersey, Giardina had turned 92 last July. A life dedicated to opera, around the world, from the States to Russia to Mexico. Without ever stopping. Always with notes in your pocket. A youthful passion, that for the pentagram and the lyric, cultivated with determination and a great spirit of sacrifice. He made his debut as a conductor at the age of 16, after graduating from the ‘Julliard School of Music’ in New York, conducting the ‘Rigoletto’ and working with Fritz Stiedry at the ‘Metropolitan Opera House’ of the Big Apple. When he was still eighteen he had already toured in all the states of the eastern United States and in Canada, conducting the ‘Carmen’ and the ‘Marriage of Figaro’.
In ’53 he arrived in Italy as a fellow of the ‘US Italy Fulbright Academy’ and the choice to live in the ‘suburra’ of ancient Rome, a few meters from the Colosseum. Studies at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia first and then at the Pontifical Institute, to obtain a degree in organ and sacred music at the Pesaro Conservatory. In the 1970s Giardina began a collaboration with the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, which soon turned into a historic partnership, which lasted twenty years during which he held the roles of choir master and vocal coach.
Among his students the greatest singers in the world: Sesto Bruscantini, Renato Bruson, José Carreras, Mario Del Monaco, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Gianni Raimondi and Maurizio Frusoni. ” Di Stefano is the voice that most impressed me ”, his memory of the Italian tenor among the most popular and loved of the post-war period. In particular, Giardina was the teacher and mentor of Maria Callas, probably the most famous soprano of all time. Of the ‘Divina’ he recalled the humble character and perfectionism: ” Callas was a very modest woman, unfortunately she had a sad and troubled life. She was very studious, she was able to spend half an hour trying a trill … ”.
Giardina was one of the favorite masters for the opera season at the Eliseo Theater in Rome. Outside Italy he has directed and taught in many countries, from Albania to Bulgaria, from Denmark to Germany, even in India, Taiwan and Ireland, where for five years he prepared the opera seasons for the ‘Dublin Gran Opera Society’. Retired to private life in 1986, he never stopped playing his favorite piano, a black half-tailed Bechstein, and giving advice to the youngest, with his marked Italian-American accent, ‘broccolino’, as he called it while doing it. irony about himself and his past. In recent years Giardina has organized and led a choir of sixty young Italians renamed ‘Singin’ Black ‘: they interpreted American spiritual songs, which reminded him so much of his homeland. (by Vittorio Amato)