Het is vandaag veertig jaar geleden dat de Italiaanse tenor Giacomo Lauri-Volpi is overleden. Ik kende hem niet en toch staat hij in mijn database. Waarom? Misschien omdat hij het idool van Benito Mussolini was? Daar kon hij bij wijze van spreke zelf natuurlijk niets aan doen, maar het is toch opvallend dat hij na de Tweede Wereldoorlog in het Spanje van Franco ging wonen…

Born in Lanuvio, Italy, he was orphaned at the age of 11. After completing his secondary education at the seminary at Albano and graduating from the University of Rome La Sapienza, he began vocal studies under the great 19th-century baritone Antonio Cotogni at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
His nascent singing career was put on hold, however, by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, during which he served with the Italian armed forces and emerged as one of Italy’s most decorated soldiers. The war over, he made a successful operatic debut as Arturo in Bellini’s “I Puritani” in Viterbo, Italy, on 2 September 1919 — performing under the name Giacomo Rubini, after Bellini’s favorite tenor, Giovanni Battista Rubini. Four months later, on 3 January 1920, he scored another success, at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, this time performing under his own name opposite Rosina Storchio and Ezio Pinza in Massenet’s “Manon”.
Lauri-Volpi was widely acclaimed for his performances at Italy’s most celebrated opera house, La Scala, Milan, between the two world wars. A highlight of his Milan seasons occurred in 1929 when he was chosen to sing Arnoldo in La Scala’s centenary production of Rossini’s “Guglielmo Tell”.
He was also a leading tenor at the New York Metropolitan Opera from 1923 to 1933, appearing there in a total of 307 performances. During this 10-year period he sang opposite Maria Jeritza in the American premiere of Puccini’s “Turandot” and opposite Rosa Ponselle in the Met premiere of Verdi’s “Luisa Miller”. His Met career was terminated prematurely after a dispute with the opera house’s management. They wanted him to take a pay cut to help tide the theatre through the economic privations being caused by the Great Depression, but he refused to co-operate and left New York for Italy.
Lauri-Volpi’s most notable appearances outside Italy also included two seasons at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden — in 1925 and 1936. By the latter date, he had broadened his repertoire, progressing from lyric roles to more taxing dramatic parts. His voice began to show consequent signs of wear in the 1940s, losing homogeneity. His thrilling top notes remained remarkably intact, however, right through until the 1950s.
During the Second World War, Lauri-Volpi was based in Italy and was particularly admired by the country’s dictator, Benito Mussolini. His last public performance in a full opera came in 1959, as Manrico, in a production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” staged at Rome.
Lauri-Volpi recorded a number of opera arias and duets for European and American gramophone companies during the height of his fame. His voice was a brilliant instrument at its zenith: bright, flexible and ringing in tone. He had astonishingly easy and penetrating high notes and possessed a shimmering vibrato which made his voice instantly recognisable both on disc and in the theatre.
Lauri-Volpi was a cultured, intelligent man with a fiery temperament and firm opinions. He retired to Spain after World War II and died in Burjassot, near Valencia, at the age of 86. (Wikipedia)

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