FRANCESCO TAMAGNO, Tenor * 28 December 1850, Turin Città Metropolitana di Torino Piemonte, Italy + 31 August 1905 Varese Provincia di Varese Lombardia, Italy;

29 Nov

Opera singer. A dramatic tenor, he sang in most of the world’s leading operatic venues during the late 1800s. Raised in Turin by a middle class restaurant-owning family, Tamagno served in the Italian military then got his professional start with the chorus at his home city’s Teatro Regio in 1870, progressing over the next few years to comprimario parts. His first major role was Riccardo in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” at Palermo’s Teatro Bellini in 1874 while his La Scala Milano debut took place in 1877 as Vasco da Gama from Giacomo Meyerbeer’s “L’Africaine”. Belonging to the genre of singer known as ‘tenore robusto’, he favored roles that showed off his powerful high notes such as the title role in Verdi’s “Ernani”, Manrico in same composer’s “Il Trovatore”, Arnold from Rossini’s “William Tell”, and Rhadames in Verdi’s “Aida”. Over the years he was to add other heavyweight parts to his repertoire including Eleazar in Jacques Halevy’s “La Juive” and the title leads of Camille Saint-Saens’ “Samson et Dalila” and Umberto Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier, though his greatest renown was to come from his creation of the title role in Verdi’s “Otello” at its La Scala world premiere on February 2, 1887 under the baton of Franco Faccio. Tamagno took Otello to many major opera houses including New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1890 and London’s Covent Garden in 1895. He kept a busy schedule, touring 26 different countries, which probably contributed to a premature vocal decline, and was forced into gradual retirement by heart disease before giving his final performance at Rome as Otello in 1903. Tamagno’s only recordings, which include excerpts from “Otello”, were cut in 1903 and 1904 for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company; the science of phonograph recording was primitive and his voice no longer what it had been, but the records had large sales at the time (despite a high price), have remained continuously in print, and are still studied by music historians. (bio by: Bob Hufford)

as the very first Otello

in Le Roi de Lahore

wearing a three-piece suit

a studio portrait

in profile

and arms folded

All Photos Courtesy of Sandy’s Opera Gallery

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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Tenors


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