Monthly Archives: January 2017

MARIO LANZA, Tenor * 31 January 1921, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States + 7 October 1959, Rome, Italy;

Singer, Actor. First singer to earn Gold Records (over 1 million copies sold) in both classical and pop categories. Born Alfred Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he left high school early to work in his uncle’s grocery store, until he auditioned for a music scholarship in 1942. During World War II, he was drafted into the Army, and served until the end of the war. His wife, Betty Hicks Lanza, was the younger sister of his Army buddy, Bert Hicks, and they married shortly after Mario’s release from the Army; together they had four children: Colleen, Elisa, Damon, and Marc. In 1948, he signed with MGM, and his singing voice quickly brought him critical acclaim from both reviewers and fans alike. He adopted his stage name by masculinizing his mother’s maiden name, Maria Lanza. His first two films, “That Midnight Kiss” (1949) and “The Toast of New Orleans” (1950), teamed him with actress Kathryn Grayson, and was an overnight success. His next film, “The Great Caruso” (1951) was a perfect fit for his talent. His stardom was short-lived, however, as he reportedly had an overbearing sense of self-importance, and had trouble with alcohol and barbiturates, as well as a ballooning weight problem. In 1954, he was to star in the lead role of Prince Karl in “The Student Prince” but the role went to Edmund Purdom instead, although it is Lanza’s voice that does all of the singing. As his weight continued to cost him roles, he decided to move to Italy for a fresh start and to find new film roles. While filming “The Seven Hills of Rome” (1958) and “For the First Time” (1959) in Rome, Italy, he undertook a rigorous diet, using barbiturates to help him lose weight, which contributed to his heart attack and death at age 38. His wife, shattered by his death, died five months later. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

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Kathryn Grayson  Mario Lanza:

Kathryn Grayson and Mario Lanza

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Tenors


ANDRÉ GASTON BAUGÉ, Baritone * 4 January 1893, Toulouse – 25 May 1966, Clichy-la-Garenne;

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André Gaston Baugé (4 January 1893, Toulouse – 25 May 1966, Clichy-la-Garenne) was a French baritone, active in opera and operetta, who also appeared in films in the 1930s.

Life and career
The son of Alphonse Baugé, a vocal teacher, and Anna Tariol-Baugé a soprano active in operetta, he studied with his parents and appeared in the French provinces billed as André Grilland.

He made his debut at the Paris Opéra-Comique as Frédéric in Lakmé in 1917. A pensionnaire at the Opéra-Comique until 1925, he appeared as Clément Marot in La Basoche, Sylvanus in Au Beau Jardin de France, Figaro in Le Barbier de Séville, Escamillo in Carmen, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Don Giovanni, Clavaroche in Fortunio, Lescaut in Manon, the title role in Mârouf, savetier du Caire, Ourrias in Mireille, Jean in Les noces de Jeannette, Silvio in Paillasse, Pelléas, d’Orbel in La Traviata, Marcel in La boheme, and Albert in Werther. He sang in the first performances at the Salle Favart of Béatrice, Masques et Bergamasques and Véronique., and in 1925 at the Opéra played Germont in Traviata and the title role in Mârouf, having been heard as Escamillo also in Monte Carlo the previous year.

In 1925 he sang in the French premiere of Monsieur Beaucaire and moved into the field of comédie musicale and Viennese operetta. A succession of appearances in that genre followed: Venise (alongside his mother) in 1927, Paganini in 1928, Vouvray in 1929 (for which he wrote the text), Le Clown amoureux in 1929, Robert le Pirate in 1929, Cinésonor in 1930 (also writing the text), Nina-Rosa in 1931, Valses de Vienne in 1933, Au temps des Merveilleuses in 1934, Au soleil du Mexique in 1935 and Le Chant du tzigane in 1937.

On film he appeared in La Route est belle, one of the first films with sound (1929–1930, music by Szulc) and other films up to 1935 when he returned to the theatre. As well as contributing to the books of several productions (Vouvray, Cinésonor) he designed the cover for the score of Venise by Richepin. He was for a time the director of the Trianon-Lyrique in Paris.

He was the author of the libretto of an opéra-bouffe in three acts entitled tableaux Beaumarchais, using Rossini’s music arranged by Eugène Cools (1877-1936), which was premiered at the Théâtre des Variétés in Marseille in 1931. After the war he taught at the École Normale, returning to the theatre in 1958 as Johann Strauss senior in Valses de Vienne. He left recordings of songs from many of his roles, and some of these have been re-issued on CD.

His wife was the singer Suzanna Laydeker (who also appeared as Laydeker-Baugé and died in 1980)

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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Baritones


LUBA MIRELLA, Soprano * 13 April 1894, Rostov + 4 March 1972, Milan;

 Luba Mirella

Luba (or Ljuba) Mirella (née Ljuba Wagenheim; 13 April 1894, Rostov – 4 March 1972, Milan) was an Italian coloratura soprano of Polish descent. Her name is sometimes given in cast lists as Mirella Luba and Mirella Lubov.


Luba Mirella was born in Rostov to a family of Polish musicians who emigrated to Italy during the First World War. She probably made her debut in Russia and subsequently enjoyed a successful career in Italy, appearing widely in the province as well as at the principal opera houses. Her best role on stage was considered Musetta in Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème, and she sang this part with great success at the Teatro Regio di Parma, Teatro Regio di Torino, Teatro Comunale di Bologna and, notably, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1935. At La Scala Mirella also appeared in the 1940/1941 season in Richard Strauss’s opera Die Frau ohne Schatten. Outside Italy she is known to have appeared at the Teatro Liceo in Barcelona (in 1929, as Musetta, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen, Nedda in Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci as well as in parts in Russian operas), Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon (in 1926, as Musetta and Micaëla) and the Zürich Opera House (in 1931, as Musetta). She died in 1972 at the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, where she came in 1958 and spent her old age.

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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Sopranos


ETTORE BASTIANINI, Baritone * 24 September 1922, Siena, Italy + 25 January 1967, Sirmione;

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Among the baritones whom I have seen on stage, Ettore Bastianini had the
most beautiful voice and was the most impressive in appearance. Others
have certainly shown a greater flair for drama, and he was not among the
most adventurous in terms of repertoire. Intonation was not always
fastidious and there was, at times, a lack of passion in his phrasing,
but there was no sound like his in my experience. It has been described
by others as “burnished”, but it was much more than that. It was a
perfectly centered voice, able to sustain itself without stress
throughout its range, and it had both an amazing resonance below the
staff and a glorious bloom at the top. It ended much too quickly.
Bastianini died at the age of forty four after a five year struggle with
cancer, a battle that was courageously fought both in his private life
and on the stages of the world. This is his story.

Ettore Bastianini was born on 24 September 1922 at Siena, Italy and,
after completing elementary school, was brought by his mother to Gaetano
Vanni, who assumed responsibility for the young boy’s education and
musical training. Ettore was engaged by the Coro della Metropolitana
and, for several years sang in a variety of local events including the
annual Palio at Siena. He was conscripted into the Italian Air Force in
late 1944 and remained in the military for only a few months, as the war
was quickly winding down. On 28 January 1945 Ettore made his debut as a
soloist in a concert at the Teatro Rex of Siena, singing “Vecchia
zimarra” from La Boheme and “La Calunnia” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
Yes, Ettore Bastianini began his professional life as a bass and he was
to remain one for seven years.

In November and December of 1945 Ettore appeared at Ravenna and Forli as
Colline and in March 1946 he sang two concerts at the Teatro Comunale of
Firenze, where he received excellent reviews. Later in the year he sang
Sparafucile and Don Basilio at Rubiera, the Bonzo in Madama Butterfly,
Sparafucile and Don Basilio at Firenze, and debuted at Pisa’s Teatro
Verdi, again as Basilio.

Bastianini received his first international attention when he traveled
with an Italian troupe to Cairo in the winter of 1947. Gino Bechi was
the featured baritone and Dina Mannucci Contini assumed the major
soprano roles. Ettore sang in Rigoletto, Barbiere di Siviglia, and for
the first time in Lucia di Lammermoor. The company appeared at
Alexandria after which Ettore returned to Italy for a series of concerts
at Forli, Ferrara and Firenze. Later in the year he sang Ferrando in Il
Trovatore at Lucca and Ferrara and, at Ferrara he sang Alvise in La
Gioconda for the first time. During the winter of 1948 Bologna, Forli,
Ravenna, Ferrara and Como all saw him as Colline and in late February he
debuted at Parma’s Teatro Regio as Alvise. In April he sang Brander in
Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust at Genoa and on 24 April he debuted at La
Scala as Tiresia in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with Suzanne Danco and Gino
Penno. September found him at Cento where, for the first time, he sang
Gounod’s Mephistofele and in December he debuted at Barcelona’s Liceo as
Il Talpa in Tabarro and Betto di Signa in Gianni Schicchi. The year
ended at Novara with his first assumptions of Ramfis. As with so many
others, Ettore was busy but the career was not assuming any particular
luster or notoriety. He confided to friends that he thought he might
try his hand at the baritone repertoire, in which he felt vocally
comfortable, but he was persuaded that his talents lay in the darker and
deeper areas of his voice and that he should persist in his chosen
course. After a period of soul searching, he decided that they were
right. But, not for long.

Bastianini returned to Cairo in the winter of 1949 where he appeared in
Il Trovatore with Maria Caniglia and Galliano Masini, Barbiere di
Siviglia with Tito Gobbi, Rigoletto with Gobbi and La Sonnambula. At
Alexandria he added Il Re in Aida and then traveled to Caracas where he
debuted as Ramfis. The season offered La Boheme, Lucia di Lammermoor
and Rigoletto. In December he returned to Barcelona for I Puritani and
Aida, again singing Ramfis, and closed the year at Parma with Fedora and
Madama Butterfly.

1950 found Ettore back in Egypt where he sang Lothario in Mignon for the
first time partnered by Gianna Pederzini, Grenvil in Traviata with
Virginia Zeani, Lucia di Lammermoor with Beniamino Gigli and in Il
Trovatore and La Forza del Destino with Carla Castellani. At Alexandria
he added Abimelech in Samson and Dalilah with Pederzini and Renato
Gavarini and Rigoletto with Gino Bechi. Later in the year, at Lucca, he
sang the Count in Manon with Clara Petrella and Timur in Turandot.
Turin’s radio station presented him in a broadcast of Smetana’s Bartered
Bride and in early 1951 he returned again to Cairo and Alexandria for a
long season in Aida, Barbiere, Turandot and Guglielmo Tell. In April he
sang his last performances as a bass when he repeated Colline at
Turin’s Teatro Alfieri. He was convinced that his role in opera would
be fulfilled as a baritone and he left the stage for seven months to
restudy both his technique and his repertoire.

On 17 January 1952 at Siena, Bastianini made his stage debut as a
baritone in the role of Giorgio Germont with Mannucci Contini and
Gustavo Gallo. It was not a success, and he was forced to leave the
stage again for a period of intense vocal exercise intended to secure
the top of the voice. When he returned to opera in July, it was an
entirely different story. After Rigoletto at Siena and Amonasro at
Pescara he sang Germont to the Violetta of Virginia Zeani at Bologna and
it was an enormous success. In fact, the top of his voice was the
center of praise in the press. He was immediately engaged by the Teatro
Comunale of Firenze for Tschaikovsky’s Pique Dame, when he sang Yeletzky
to the Lisa of Sena Jurinac and the Countess of Gianna Pederzini. 1953
began with a guest appearance at Hamburg as Michele in Il Tabarro and
from there he returned to Firenze for Lucia di Lammermoor with Maria
Callas and Giacomo Lauri Volpi. In March, at Firenze, he sang Rossini’s
Figaro for the first time and in April he appeared as Olivier in
Strauss’ Capriccio at Genoa. He returned to the Comunale of Firenze
during the Maggio Musicale and sang Andrej in Prokofiev’s War and Peace
with Rosanna Carteri and Franco Corelli. It was this engagement that
solidified his place in the opera centers of Italy. The reviews were
superb for all but Bastianini was particularly praised for his
magnificent tonal splendor. He returned to Germany for guest
appearances at Augsburg in Aida and in La Forza del Destino, the latter
with Leonie Rysanek.

After a few additional performances in Italy, including Pearl Fishers at
Trieste, Bastianini left for the United States and his debut at the
Metropolitan Opera. He had, miraculously, in less than two years,
established a firm enough reputation that he was about to sing in the
most important theater in the Western Hemisphere. On 5 December, he
debuted as Germont with Licia Albanese and Richard Tucker. The reviews
were somewhat disappointing. He was generously praised for his
beautiful voice but was generally found to be somewhat pedestrian in his
stage manner though extraordinarily handsome. In fact, it was his very
youthful appearance as the aging aristocrat that seemed most to put off
those who were initially not persuaded. However, response was very
enthusiastic and he later sang in Il Trovatore with Zinka Milanov, Elena
Nikolaidi and Kurt Baum and in Lucia di Lammermoor with Lily Pons and
Jan Peerce. New York’s love affair with the dashing new baritone would
continue for the next seven years.

Contracts were pouring in and Ettore was faced with making decisions
about engagements for the first time in his career. Como presented him
in Pearl Fishers, Trieste’s Teatro Verdi staged Thais, and he debuted on
13 February 1954 at Venice’s La Fenice in Lucia di Lammermoor with
Callas and Luigi Infantino In March he debuted at Genoa’s Carlo Felice
in La Forza del Destino with Caterina Mancini, Giulietta Simionato,
Roberto Turrini and Giorgio Tozzi and a week later the Genoese saw
Ettore in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. In April he toured to
Strasbourg and other French cities in La Forza del Destino, again with
Mancini, and on 10 May he made his first appearance as a baritone at La
Scala. The opera was Eugen Onegin and his partners were Renata Tebaldi,
Cloe Elmo, Giuseppe Di Stefano and Raffaele Arie. It was a celebrated
occasion for all the participants and Bastianini was immediately engaged
for another Tschaikovsky work, Masepa, which was presented at the Maggio
Musicale Fiorentino with Magda Olivero and Boris Christoff.

After performances of Rigoletto at Augsburg, Bastianini sang in La Forza
del Destino at Enna with Adriana Guerrini and toured to Perugia, San
Benedetto del Tronto, L’Aquila, Macerata, Avezzano, and Chiangiano Terme
with Rigoletto also featuring the young Gianna D’Angelo. On 25 August
he debuted at Rome’s Caracalla as the hunchbacked jester, again with
D’Angelo as well as Di Stefano, and after La Boheme at Turin with Clara
Petrella, he returned to New York for a five month season with the
Metropolitan Opera company. Bastianini’s New York season included La
Traviata, Aida, Andrea Chenier, La Boheme and Don Carlo, during which he
took a short break to appear with the San Antonio Opera Company in Lucia
di Lammermoor with Lily Pons. Following his return to New York he
toured with the Met to Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston, Dallas and

On 28 May 1955 La Scala presented the historic Visconti production of La
Traviata with Callas, Di Stefano and Bastianini under Giulini’s
direction. It is preserved on tape, Lp and CD and is among the author’s
most treasured recordings. All three soloists are at the peak of their
powers and there are moments throughout the performance that I consider
to have been unequalled in any documentation with which I am familiar.
Di Stefano was to leave after the first performance but Ettore remained
in the production for an additional three evenings, partnered at the
later performances by Giacinto Prandelli. In June he joined Prandelli
and Zeani at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera for two additional performances of
Traviata and in August, he debuted at Naples’ Arena Flegrea as Carlo
Gerard. In October Monterrey, Mexico saw him as Marcello with Victoria
de los Angeles as an exquisite Mimi, after which he traveled to Chicago
for his debut as Riccardo in I Puritani with Callas, Di Stefano and
Nicola Rossi Lemeni. The evening was remembered by Claudia Cassidy as
among the greatest expositions of bel canto style in her very long
memory. Following this unqualified conquest, Ettore appeared with
Callas, Ebe Stignani and Jussi Bjorling in the legendary, elusive and
fabled Il Trovatore, elusive because there have been recurring rumors of
the existence of a tape for lo these forty five years, though none has
ever surfaced.

Bastianini made a brief stop at the Met in Aida and Andrea Chenier,
after which he returned to Italy for Il Tabarro at Florence with Clara
Petrella and Mirto Picchi. And so, his year ended. It had been an
exceptional parade of triumphs, but it was only the first flush in a
pattern that would continue for several more years, until~E~E~E~E~E

His engagement at Firenze continued with La Gioconda on 7 January 1956.
In the cast were Anita Cerquetti, Ebe Stignani, Gianni Poggi and
Giuseppe Modesti. After a repeat of La Traviata at La Scala with Maria
Callas, he returned to the Metropolitan Opera for La Boheme, Rigoletto,
Lucia di Lammermoor and Il Trovatore as well as a Gala Concert in honor
of Italy’s president, Giovanni Gronchi, in which Bastianini sang
“Cortigiani”. In April he returned to La Scala for Un Ballo in Maschera
and later, to Firenze’s Maggio
Musicale for La Traviata with Tebaldi and Don Carlo with Cerquetti,
Barbieri and Siepi.
At Caracalla he portrayed Germont with Zeani and Gianni Raimondi after
which he sang Figaro at the Verona Arena.

In the late summer he sang at Bilbao in Il Trovatore with Caterina
Mancini and in Rigoletto, and at Seville, he debuted as Figaro. After a
brief visit to Mexico, he returned to Chicago for Il Trovatore, La
Traviata, La Forza del Destino with Tebaldi, Simionato, Tucker and
Rossi-Lemeni and La Boheme with Tebaldi and Bjorling. It was during
this season that the justly famous concert of 10 November was recorded,
with Tebaldi, Simionato and Tucker. He appeared for the first time at
Naples’ Teatro San Carlo on 1 Dec as Valentin in Faust and later in the
month he sang Figaro.

On 6 January 1957, Bastianini sang in Un Ballo in Maschera at Firenze
and it is preserved on record and CD. The author considers it to be the
greatest document extant of Anita Cerquetti, though the sound is
problematic. He returned to the Met for Il Trovatore, La Boheme, Aida,
Carmen with Rise Stevens, Don Carlo and La Traviata and after closing
the season in New York he toured with the company to Baltimore, Boston,
Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta and Dallas. In June Firenze presented him
in an all star revival of Ernani with Cerquetti, Del Monaco and
Christoff. It is well documented on recording and is a superb
performance, beautifully balanced and thrillingly conducted by Dimitri
Mitropoulos. In the autumn he returned to Mexico where, at the capitol,
Ettore sang in Carmen and Aida, and at Monterrey in Un Ballo in
Maschera, Carmen and La Traviata. The year ended with an opening night
at La Scala, Un Ballo in Maschera with Callas, Di Stefano and Simionato.
It is a well known performance, and it is not an exaggeration to state
that, in an evening of superb performances “Eri tu” was the highlight.
The ovation was enormous.

1958 was a repeat of the previous year, new productions at Italy’s most
important theaters and debuts at some of the world’s premiere opera
centers. On 15 March he appeared at Naples in another of his fabled
documented revivals, La Forza del Destino with Tebaldi, Corelli and
Christoff and at La Scala he appeared with Callas and Corelli in Il
Pirata, one of Callas’ few unrecorded operas at that theater. On 1
June Cerquetti debuted at La Scala in Nabucco with Ettore, Simionato,
Poggi and Nicola Zaccaria and on 20 June Ettore debuted at Brussels in
Tosca with Tebaldi and Di Stefano to an hysterical ovation.
On 26 July Salzburg saw him for the first time when he sang in Don Carlo
with Jurinac, Simionato, Fernandi and Siepi under the leadership of Von
Karajan, a highly truncated performance, beautifully recorded and
magnificently performed.

At Verona Bastianini sang in La Favorita with Simionato and Poggi and on
15 September he debuted at the Vienna Staatsoper as Rigoletto with Hilde
Gueden and Di Stefano. He was a sensation and continued his season with
Don Carlo, La Traviata and in Un Ballo in Maschera with Birgit Nilsson,
Simionato and Di Stefano. After another visit to Mexico, he returned to
Chicago for Il Trovatore followed by La Traviata with Eleanor Steber and
Leopold Simoneau after which he opened the Naples season in Andrea
Chenier with Stella and Corelli. The year ended at La Scala in Handel’s
Eracle with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Barbieri and Corelli. Ettore had
reached the pinnacle of his, by now, unequalled career. Opening nights
and new productions were the norm and he savored every minute of his
fame and adulation. There were a few mountains still to be climbed, but
they would be conquered.

1959 opened with La Boheme at La Scala. The first night cast included
Renata Scotto and Gianni Raimondi and there were twelve performances.
Ettore returned to Vienna for La Traviata and on 20 February he debuted
at Lisbon’s Sao Carlo as Di Luna partnered by a remarkably imperious
Regine Crespin. After performances of Ernani at La Scala, Bastianini
returned to Lisbon for Lucia di Lammermoor with D’Angelo and Alfredo
Kraus. The spring found him back at Milan for Il Tabarro with Clara
Petrella and Il Trovatore. At Vienna he appeared in Un Ballo in
Maschera, Don Carlo and Rigoletto and on 23 June he returned to Milan
for a gala concert in honor of Charles De Gaulle. Ettore appeared in
act three of Ernani with Gabriella Tucci and Corelli.

On 8 July Bastianini appeared at Firenze’s Giardino dei Boboli. Dan
Kessler remembers – “Bastianini appeared as Nabucco, the only time I saw
him. What a voice, a rich baritonal sound that I will never forget.
Margherita Roberti was the Abigaille”
Later in the month he appeared at La Scala in Carmen with Simionato,
Tucci and Di Stefano and at Verona in Il Trovatore with Tucci, Simionato
and Corelli. After a visit to Bilbao, Bastianini returned to Vienna for
Don Carlo, Un Ballo in Maschera, Tosca, Rigoletto, Carmen and Pagliacci.
He had firmly established his place as the major Italian baritone in
that city and would continue to sing a staggering number of
performances, to the delight of the Viennese until the very end of his

At Dallas, he appeared in Lucia di Lammermoor with Maria Callas and in
Il Barbiere di Siviglia. On 28 November Naples San Carlo opened its
season with Adriana Lecouvreur, a revival that was intended for Renata
Tebaldi. Two days before the performance was scheduled, immediately
after the final dress rehearsal, Tebaldi announced that she was
indisposed and would not be able to appear. Into the breach came Magda
Olivero, who, with Ettore, Simionato and Corelli, gave one of the
defining performances of the century. It is preserved on CD for all to
hear, an astonishing display of vocalism from all four principals. It
remains among the greatest operatic documents that the author has ever
heard. On 13 December the San Carlo presented Ettore and Virginia Zeani
in Thais and on the 26 he ended the year at Rome in Un Ballo in Maschera
with Stella and Di Stefano.

1960 began at La Scala with Andrea Chenier. Tebaldi had recovered and
appeared with Ettore and Del Monaco in a memorable revival. Shortly
thereafter Bastianini returned to the Met where, on 1 February he
appeared in La Forza Del Destino with Rysanek, Tucker, and Siepi. Ed
Rosen remembers – “I recall a Forza that Bastianini did in 1960 with
Rysanek and Tucker. He was very hoarse most of the night, but his voice
finally came into focus in the great last act duet with the tenor.
Tucker kept patting him on the back during their curtain calls”.

The author remembers – “It was my first encounter with Rysanek,
Bastianini and La Forza del Destino. I was swept away with the grandeur
of the opera, of the singing and especially of the overture, which was
performed just before the Convent Scene. I remember very impressive and
sonorous voices rising over wonderful orchestral effects. I also
attended his single performance of Trovatore with Stella, Bergonzi and
Simionato, and a monumental performance of Andrea Chenier on 5 March,
the night after Leonard Warren’s death. Milanov, Bergonzi and Ettore
were all at their very best, but it is “Nemico della Patria” that
remains the indelible memory. The aria was thunderously received by a
capacity audience that demonstrated its appreciation for several

Ed Rosen, once more – “Bastianini always stopped the show with his
singing of “Nemico della Patria”. One could even make a good argument
that he stole the show”.

At this time, there was no other baritone career that could approach
Ettore’s. It was of a stature that will rarely be found in any annals.
La Scala presented him in Un Ballo in Maschera in April and Vienna
hosted him in Aida, Tosca with Gre Brouwenstijn and Di Stefano, La
Boheme, Un Ballo in Maschera, Carmen, Don Carlo, Andrea Chenier and
Rigoletto. The Chenier performance has been released on a Cetra CD and
is my favorite performance among those with Tebaldi. She, Bastianini
and Corelli are all in glorious voice.

After Don Carlo at Salzburg and Cavalleria Rusticana with Simionato at
the Verona Arena, Ettore returned to Vienna for Andrea Chenier with
Stella and Bergonzi, Aida with Leontyne Price, Un Ballo in Maschera with
Stella, Simionato and Di Stefano, La Forza del Destino with Stella,
Simionato and Di Stefano, Carmen with Jean Madeira, La Boheme, La Forza
del Destino, and Tosca. On 27 November, in Ernani, he again opened the
Naples season and on 7 December he and Corelli partnered Maria Callas in
her historic return to La Scala in Donizetti’s Poliuto. It is among the
greatest of his performances and among the most important historical
documents of this century. 1960 ended at Scala with his inimitable

1961 was little different from the preceding year; at La Scala
Bastianini sang in La Forza del Destino, I Puritani with Scotto, Lucia
di Lammermoor with Sutherland and Raimondi and in Don Carlo with Stella,
Fiorenza Cossotto, Flaviano Labo and Christoff. At Palermo he debuted
in Nabucco and in Vienna he sang in Boheme, La Forza del Destino, Andrea
Chenier, Un Ballo in Maschera, Carmen, Don Carlo, and Aida. In July he
sang in Carmen at the Verona Arena with Simionato, Scotto and Corelli
and in August he sang in Nabucco at Firenze. After a return to Vienna
for four operas, Ettore debuted at Berlin in Il Trovatore with Mirella
Parutto, Fedora Barbieri and Corelli. On 6 October he debuted at the
San Francisco War Memorial Opera House as Nabucco with Lucille Udovich,
Renato Cioni and Giorgio Tozzi, and he later sang in Un Ballo in
Maschera and Rigoletto, the last opera being repeated in Los Angeles.
At Dallas, in November, he sang in Lucia di Lammermoor with Sutherland
and on 7 December, Ettore again opened the Scala season, this time in
Verdi’s Battaglia di Legnano with Stella and Corelli.

In February 1962 Bastianini debuted at Covent Garden in Un Ballo in
Maschera with Amy Schuard Regina Resnik, Joan Carlyle and Jon Vickers
and was well applauded though it would be his only appearance at that
theater. His Scala season included performances of La Favorita,
Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore while at Vienna he sang in Don
Carlo, Rigoletto, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Boheme and Aida. On 31 July
he Leontyne Price, Simionato and Corelli sang in an all star revival of
Il Trovatore at Salzburg and it is preserved on CD. It has been the
subject of superlatives for thirty five and more years, many people
considering it to be the finest performance of the opera ever recorded.
The author would agree with that assessment. In the autumn, Ettore
returned to Vienna for five operas and to San Francisco for Il
Trovatore, Pagliacci and La Boheme. In Los Angeles he sang in Tosca
with Dorothy Kirsten. After a return to Chicago for Rigoletto,
Bastianini again opened the La Scala season on 7 December in Il
Trovatore with Stella, Cossotto and Corelli.

During January of 1963 Bastianini sang seven roles in Vienna and then
disappeared from the stage for two months. It cannot be stressed
enough in telling this story that his illness was not known to anyone
but his family. He had gone to Bern Switzerland for cancer treatments.
The world understood that he was on a vacation. From this point until
the end of his career, Vienna was to be his center of activity and he
made relatively few appearances elsewhere. He repeated Trovatore at
Salzburg in the summer of 1963 and debuted at Tokyo in the same opera in
October. On 12 December he sang in Don Carlo at La Scala

After performances of Rigoletto at Zurich and Nabucco at Strasbourg in
January 1964, Bastianini again left the stage, this time for four
months, and still the opera world was told nothing other than that he
was taking it easy. Outside of a singe performance of Il Trovatore at
Prato, Italy, the rest of the year was spent on the stage of the Vienna
Staatsoper, and on 26 December, Ettore returned to Naples for Damnation
of Faust with Simionato. In late January, 1965, Bastianini returned to
the Metropolitan Opera for La Forza del Destino, Lucia di Lammermoor and

Ed Rosen, again – Unfortunately, my strongest memories of Bastianini
were his final performances at the Met. He sounded just dreadful.
Nobody knew he was suffering from throat cancer, and, he was booed,
especially after the Tosca. He made a disgusted gesture, walked of f
the stage and would not bow again.

Mike Richter remembers – ” I saw him once in Lucia di Lammermoor with
Moffo and Alexander in 1965. He was an excellent Enrico in that
company; solid and four-square with a voice that still rang out freely.”

The author remembers Tosca – ” I was rather stunned at the lack of
power in the voice and in its basic dryness. It was a benefit
performance and expectations ran high. He disappointed everyone, though
he still looked quite wonderful. Like Ed, I remember some booing. We
didn’t know the truth, and it makes it all the sadder”.

Ettore appeared in Cairo as Iago and Rigoletto, and after another visit
to Vienna he traveled to Tokyo for concerts. The end of his career came
in the United States, strangely enough. In San Francisco he sang in
Andrea Chenier with Tebaldi and Tucker, a performance that Tebaldi
remembered as pathetic and wrenching. At Chicago, Ettore sang in Aida
with Leontyne Price and he closed out his career in Don Carlo at the
Metropolitan Opera on 11 December 1965. The cast included Martina
Arroyo, Biserka Cvejic, Bruno Prevedi, and Jerome Hines.

Ettore retreated to his home where he remained in semi seclusion with
his dog, Zabo, being visited only by family members and Franco and
Loretta Corelli, who were constant sources of strength and encouragement
through the horrors of the next year. Ettore Bastianini died on 25
January 1967 and is buried in his beloved Siena. It was not until his
death was announced that the outside world, the rest of us, even knew
that he had been ill.

Kurt Youngmann remembers – “Lost in Siena a number of years ago, I came
across a street called “Via Ettore Bastianini”. I assume it was named
after him although he could have had the same name as someone else. In
any case, I was thrilled to see the street.” Kurt continues – “The
voice was described by someone as an ‘uncut diamond'”. The author
appends – “with no sharp edges”.

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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Baritones


DONALD ADAMS, Bass * 20 December 1928, Bristol + 8 April 1996, Norwich;

DONALD ADAMS was born in Bristol, where he sang as a chorister in the cathedral and played Thomas a’ Becket in “Murder in The Cathedral” at the age of sixteen. His promising career in radio and on the stage was interrupted by war service in the Army, in which his dramatic talent found recognition as the Resident Producer of the Army Repertory Theatre at Catterick Camp. On demobilisation he returned to the stage, and was a successful singer in pantomime and music hall.

He joined the chorus of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1951, singing also some small parts, and the following season he played Colonel Calverley in “Patience” and understudied twenty-six roles, making his mark as a singer with a powerful voice and personality. He took over the principal bass roles, after the death of Darrell Fancourt, in 1953 and continued to play them until he left the company in 1969.

Together with Thomas Round, and others, he founded “Gilbert & Sullivan for All”.

He made his debut at Covent Garden in “Boris Godunov” in 1983, followed by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1984.

He was married to Muriel Harding and his interest in music was wide, including composing modern melodies and arranging music.

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Donald Adams autograph

Donald Adams preparing for “The Mikado”

Donald Adams in Act 2 of “Patience”


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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Bassses, Uncategorized


LUCIA VALENTINI-TERRANI, Mezzo-Soprano * (29 August 1946 in Padua Italy (some sources say 28 August) + 11 June 1998 in Seattle, Washington, USA;

The Italian coloratura mezzo-soprano, Lucia Valentini-Terrani (born: Lucia Valentini), studied first at the Padua Music Conservatory, and later at the Accademia Benedetto Marcello in Venice.

Lucia Valentini-Terrani made her stage debut in Brescia, as Angelina in La cenerentola, a role she will remain closely associated with throughout her career. She made her debut at La Scala in 1973, again as Angelina, and quickly established herself in the Rossini repertoire, singing in L’italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Il viaggio a Reims. She also sang the many “trouser roles” such as Tancredi, Malcolm in La donna del lago, Pippo in La gazza ladra, Calbo in Maometto secondo, Arsace in Semiramide, Isolier in Le comte Ory, etc. She also sang a few roles of the Baroque repertory, notaby Monteverdi ‘s L’Orfeo, and Bradamante in George Frideric Handel ‘s Alcina. However, she did not restrict herself to the belcanto and expanded her repertoire to include roles such as Dorabella, Eboli, Quickly, Mignon, Octavian, Charlotte, Dulcinée.

Lucia Valentini-Terrani enjoyed a very successfull international career, appearing in Paris, London, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, etc. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1974, as Angelina (Cenerentola).

Lucia Valentini married Italian actor Alberto Terrani in 1973, and added his surname to hers. She was diagnozed with leukemia in 1996, and went to the famous Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle for treatment, where her colleage and friend José Carreras was treated for the same affliction. Sadly she was not as lucky as Carreras, and died of complications following a bone marrow transplant at the age of 51.

One of the leading contemporary Italian coloratura mezzo, Lucia Valentini-Terrani had a rich, creamy and agile voice used with fine musicianship, and had a good stage presence.

Courtesy of  Bach Cantatas Website

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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in Mezzo-Sopranos


FRANCO TAGLIAVINI, Tenor * 29 October 1934, Novellara, Reggio Emilia Italy + 15 August 2010, Novellara, Italy


Franco Tagliavini was born in Novellara, in the province of Reggio Emilia, on 29thOctober 1934, in a land with a tradition of good voices and musical passions.

He came from a farmers’ family and in his early teens he started to work as an apprentice in a nearby dairy, but his inborn passion for music led him to sing in the local chorus, directed by Maestro C. Confetta. In that he was encouraged by his father, a lover of romances and melodies. Maestro Confetta at once noticed the remarkable vocal qualities of his student and taught him solfa.

The times were economically hard, but his family sent him to study in Milan though with a lot of sacrifices. There he was lucky to meet the great soprano and singing Mistress Zita Fumagalli Riva. ‘Signora Rita’, as Franco lovingly called his teacher, gave him hospitality and he studied with her at Liceo Musicale “G.B.Viotti” in Vercelli. He had to interrupt his studies to do his national service, which lasted 18 months at the time, and on coming back he had to start all over again.

In 1961 he won the musical contest ASLICO, making his debut in the role of Canio in the opera “Pagliacci” by Leoncavallo, at Milan Teatro Nuovo, a role he took only that time, but it was sufficient to make his musical qualities noticed by the orchestra conductor.
In 1962-63 he sang in provincial theatres in the following operas: Nabucco, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, Boème, Cavalleria rusticana, Mefistofele.
In April 1962 very noticeable was his début in Catania in the opera Tosca with Giliola Frazzoni and Piero Cappuccilli; in November of the same year Clara Petrella chose him for the role of Cavaradossi at Teatro Puccini in Milan.

In 1964 his international career started with the début at San Francisco and Los Angeles, in the USA, and it continued in the major theatres of the world (Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Metropolitan in New York, San Carlo in Naples, Covent Garden in London, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Die Deutsche Oper in Berlin , the Vienna Opera , The Opera in Paris, the Bolshoi in Moscow, then Tokyo, Johannesburg, Bilbao, Budapest, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Brussels, Genève, Zurich, Edinburgh) with the most celebrated partners of his time ( Tebaldi, Joan Sutherland, Birgit Nilsson, Regine Crespin, Virginia Zeani, Antonietta Stella, Monserrat Caballé, Renata Scotto, Fiorenza Cossotto, ,Leontyne Price, Leonie Rysanek, Shirley Verrett).

We mustn’t forget that great Magda Olivero stood godmother to him in Adriana Lecouvreur in Como.

Among the male interpreters, his partners were Tito Gobbi, Nicolai Ghiaurof, Martti Talvela, José Van Dam, Renato Bruson, Piero Cappuccilli, Peter Glossop, Giuseppe Taddei, Sherrill Milnes; among the orchestra conductors it is sufficient to mention Antonino Votto, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Lorin Mazel, Claudio Abbado, Georges Prêtre, Vittorio Gui. He worked with famous directors such as Giorgio De Lullo, Pierluigi Pizzi, Franco Zeffirelli, Mauro Bolognini, Franco Enriquez, Boleslaw Barlog.

In his hometown, Reggio Emilia, at Teatro Municipale ‘R. Valli’, are recorded two memorable performances: “Adriana Lecouvrer” by Cilea in 1968 and ”Tosca” by Puccini in 1971.

After 27 years of a brilliant career, no longer bearing the stage stresses and strains, which badly affected his vocal performance, he decided to put an end to his profession and retired to private life in his native town , where he gave hospitality to his singing Mistress Zita Fumagalli.

To Franco Tagliavini is entitled the “Circolo amici della lirica”- friends of opera club – in Novellara, which has promoted in his name so many cultural and musical initiatives; on the other hand , the tenor himself took an active part in the cultural life of his town, as vice-president of “Circolo culturale Omnibus” – Omnibus Cultural Club – even though he never wished to appear.

Gentle and discreet, endowed with great human and professional qualities, he was one of the major interpreters of Italian opera in the 60-80’s, a real icon of ‘bel canto’, but he was named the antistar in an era in which appearance weighs more than being.

Franco Tagliavini died at the age of 76, in August 2010.

All photos Courtesy of Franco Tagliavini


Franco Tagliavini a New York

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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in Tenors

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