• 1868 — 1939
Often appears with
Lorenzo Molajoli is today often viewed as one of those mysterious figures in the world of music about whom rumors swirl and false identities abound. Theories have circulated that Molajoli never existed, that he was, in fact, Arturo Toscanini, or perhaps Tullio Serafin or even Victor de Sabata. Such conjecture can be put to rest because, despite the mysteries surrounding him, he was a real person and managed to lead a major conducting career in Italy, if not abroad, even if he left little impression on music history. It would seem quite contradictory that he had no biographers and is found in few reference works, yet made 20 or more opera recordings in the late 1920s and early 1930s for a major label (Columbia) and led many performances at La Scala during the period between the two world wars. Recordings of his work today suggest he was a master interpreter of the operas of Verdi and perhaps of Ponchielli, Bizet, Puccini, and others.
Lorenzo Molajoli was born in Rome in 1868. Little is known of his family background and early education. He studied music in Rome at the Academia di Santa Cecilia, from where he graduated around 1891. It was that year that he launched his career, apparently in the smaller opera houses in Italy, slowly building a reputation. Eventually, he made his way to South Africa and to the Americas, where he seems to have busied himself in the less prestigious opera houses.
Molajoli may have led performances at La Scala in the period immediately before World War I, as some have claimed, but no record substantiates such activity. He seems to have come to prominence in the post-World War I era when his first appearances at La Scala are historically documented.
Molajoli led many performances of Verdi's operas there in the 1920s and 1930s. From 1928 to 1932 he recorded Rigoletto, Falstaff, La Traviata, and Il Trovatore. Beside these standards, he also recorded operas by Bizet (Carmen), Puccini (Manon Lescaut, La bohème), Leoncavallo (I Pagliacci), and many others. Molajoli worked at La Scala with some of the finest singers of the day, including Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, Mercedes Capsir, Pia Tassinari, Salvatore Baccaloni, Francesco Merli, and a spate of others. After 1932 he apparently limited his activity and may have been in declining health. He died in Milan on April 4, 1939.