Opera Scotland

Tito Gobbi Suggest updates

Born Bassano del Grappa, 24 October 1913.

Died Rome, 5 March 1984.

Italian baritone.

Tito Gobbi was a leading singing actor in the decades after the Second World War, and possessor of a beautifully-schooled and distinctive voice. He was particularly renowned for his interpretations of the Verdi baritone roles, but also acted a frightening Scarpia, as well as performing leading roles by Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti.

Abandoning a career in law,  he trained in Rome under Giulio Crimi , a tenor who had created the part of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi.  Gobbi made his debut as Rodolfo in La sonnambula (Gubbio 1935). His first appearance in Rome was as Germont at the Teatro Adriano in 1937. He sang at the Rome Opera throughout his career, early parts including the title role  in the Italian premiere of Wozzeck (1942). His debut at La Scala came the same year, as Belcore, and he went on to work at most of the major Italian houses, including Florence.

At the Rome Opera he appeared in five new works, Monte Ivnor (Rocca 1939), Ecuba (Malipiero 1941), La locandiera (Persico 1941), Le nozze di Haura (Lualdi 1943), and Il tesoro (Napoli 1958). At La Scala he sang in the premiere of L'ipocrita felice (Ghedini 1956).

Gobbi worked regularly in the United States, from 1948, when he sang Rossini's Figaro at San Francisco. He sang at Chicago between 1954 and 1973 in a repertoire that included Andrea Chénier, Adriana Lecouvreur, La fanciulla del West and Pagliacci. The role of his New York Met debut, in 1956, was Scarpia.

He appeared regularly in Britain, making his first visit as a member of the La Scala company that visited Covent Garden in 1951, when he sang Belcore.  The following year he sang Rossini's Figaro with an Italian touring company that played a season at the Stoll Theatre.  Later roles at Covent Garden included Mozart (Count Almaviva, Don Giovanni);  Verdi (Rigoletto,  Boccanegra,  Iago,  Falstaff) and Puccini (Scarpia,  Gianni Schicchi).  He also directed that production of Simon Boccanegra.

He worked once with Welsh National Opera, singing Falstaff in Cardiff, and was a member of the Florence company at the 1969 Edinburgh Festival, when he appeared in his own staging of Gianni Schicchi.

He appeared frequently in the cinema, with parts in some thirty films.

He left a significant number of classic recordings. He frequently worked with Maria Callas, and they can be heard together in recordings of Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, Un ballo in maschera, Aïda, Pagliacci and Tosca. Other notable recordings include L'elisir d'amore, Nabucco, Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlo. Otello, Falstaff, Cavalleria Rusticana, Madama Butterfly, Il tabarro, Gianni Schicchi, and Fedora.

Sources include New Grove Dictionary of Opera.

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