michele novaro

The mystery Michele Novaro

“Creator of mighty harmonies”: one can read this definition on the grave of Michele Novaro, the author of one of the music most familiar to Italians, our National Anthem.

His name, however, was forever obscured and almost forgotten unlike that of Goffredo Mameli, who, on the other hand, is punctually remembered when it comes to the “Canto degli Italiani” whose words he composed.

The life of Michele Novaro

The first of five siblings, Novaro was born in Genoa on December 23, 1818, and some interesting connections to the opera house can be found in his family. His father Gerolamo was a stagehand at the Carlo Felice Theater, while his maternal uncle, Michele Canzio, worked as an impresario.

The free singing school was taken advantage of to learn the first rudiments, and the composer trained as a respectable opera singer, so much so that in 1838 he was featured in the Genoese premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Gianni di Calais.”

The career peaked in the period between 1842 and 1844, with Novaro playing the role of second tenor at Vienna’s Porta Carinthia theater.

In 1847 he was always the second tenor and choirmaster at the Regio and Carignano theaters in Turin.

A staunch supporter of liberal ideals, he placed his compositional talents at the service of the cause of independence, setting to music many patriotic songs and organizing various fundraisers to finance and support Giuseppe Garibaldi’s exploits.

In Turin he received from his friend Goffredo Mameli, through the painter Ulisse Borzino in the home of the writer Lorenzo Valerio, the text of what later became the “Canto degli Italiani.” He immediately sketched out a first draft of the music, which he then completed in the night upon returning to his home.

In addition to the future National Anthem, he composed several other lyrics with which, however, he never achieved fame.

Back in Genoa, he founded a popular, free-access Choral School to which he devoted all his efforts.

In the last years of his life, however, financial difficulties and health problems alternated.

He died in Genoa on October 20, 1885.

Today he rests at Staglieno Monumental Cemetery in Genoa where Giuseppe Mazzini is also buried. There, his memory is evidenced by a memorial erected at the initiative of his former students.

The Michele Novaro “case”

The main reason Michele Novaro is not as well known as Goffredo Mameli, the author of the text of the Italian national anthem, “Il Canto degli Italiani,” is due to the nature of the work itself and its historical reception.

Goffredo Mameli was a patriotic poet of great significance during the period of the Italian Risorgimento. His text for “Il Canto degli Italiani” was intrinsically linked to the struggle for the independence and unification of Italy, and was an expression of the fervent nationalist aspiration of the time. Mameli, through his poems and political engagement, became an emblematic figure of the Risorgimento movement and Italian national sentiment.

On the other hand, Michele Novaro, although he was a talented and versatile composer, is uniquely known for his musical composition of “Il Canto degli Italiani.” Novaro undoubtedly played a significant role in making the hymn so iconic and beloved, but his fame remained more tied to this specific composition.

Moreover, during the period of the Risorgimento and in later years, Mameli’s text was often extolled as a literary symbol of the national struggle, while Novaro’s music was seen more as a melodic accompaniment. This helped emphasize Goffredo Mameli over Michele Novaro in the historical narrative.

Where to stay

Just under a kilometer from the city center and a hundred meters from the Brignole train station, Urban Flora is the perfect place to visit the city that gave birth to the composers of our National Anthem.

With us you will experience a Scandinavian-modern look, where fresh and pleasant plants will make you enjoy as much relaxation as possible and for an unforgettable vacation. All rooms provide a private bathroom, smart TV and free Wi-Fi that will make you feel right at home. Book your room now or contact us to ask for more information.

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