Composer (1824 - 1893)
After studying in a seminary, from which he was expelled for irreverent conduct in 1841, Antonio Ghislanzoni decided to study medicine in Pavia instead. However, after a short time, he abandoned this course of training, in order to pursue a career as a baritone and to cultivate his literary interests.
In 1848, stimulated by the work of Mazzini, Ghislanzoni founded some republican newspapers in Milan and remained director of these until forced to take refuge in Switzerland. While travelling to Rome, where he wanted to take part in the defence of the republic, he was arrested by the French and detained in Corsica for a short period.
In 1856, after his singing voice had deteriorated and his career as a baritone was at an end, Ghislanzoni became deply involved in journalism in bohemian ("Scapigliatura") Milan, becoming distinguished for his tireless energy and creativity. He was not only director of the "Italia musicale" and editor of the "Gazzetta musicale di Milano", but also founder of "L'uomo di pietra" and the magazine "Rivista minima". A.G. Barrili, A. Boito and E. De Amicis also collaborated with Ghislanzoni in these activities.
in 1869, however, Ghislanzoni decided to leave journalism and return to his native region, where he found the tranquillity and the ambience necessary to devote himself to literature and the writing of operatic libretti. There he wrote various short stories in verse and a number of novels. The most famous of these are Un suicidio a fior d'acqua (1864), Angioli nelle tenebre (1865), La contessa di Karolystria (1883), Abracadabra and Storia dell'avvenire (completed in 1884, but started twenty years previously).
Ghislanzoni completed approximately 85 operatic libretti. Among these are Edmea for Catalani (1866), Aida (1870) and the new draft of La Forza del destino (1869). He also undertook the translation of the Italian version of Don Carlos for Verdi. In addition, he published various musical essays, the most important being Reminiscenze artistiche and Gli Artisti da teatro (1856).
Antonio Ghislanzoni died in Caprino, Bergamo on July 16th, 1893.