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 of Grande opera, the equivalent of French Grand-Opéra.
Ponchielli revised the work several times; the version that is played today was first given in 1880. It is one of only a few operas that features a principal role for each of the six major voice types. This live 1979 recording stars Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras. Jesus Lopez-Cobos conducts.