La Gioconda is an opera in four acts by Amilcare Ponchielli set to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Angelo, Tyrant of Padua, a play in prose by Victor Hugo, dating from 1835. (This is the same source asGaetano Rossi had used for his libretto for Mercadante's Il giuramento in 1837).
First performed in 1876, La Gioconda was a major success for Ponchielli, as well as the most successful new Italian opera between Verdi's Aida (1871) and Otello (1887). It is also a famous example of the Italian genre ofGrande opera, the equivalent of French Grand-Opéra.
Ponchielli revised the work several times; the version that is played today was first given in 1880. There are several complete recordings of the opera, and it is regularly performed, especially in Italy. It is one of only a few operas that features a principal role for each of the six major voice types. This classic 1957 stars Zinka Milanov, Giuseppe di Stefano, Leonard Warren, Rosalind Elias and Plinio Clabasi. The Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia of Rome, conducted by Fernando Previtali, London, 1957.