(b Cento, Ferrara, 17 March 1871; d Reno di Leggiuno, Varese, 18 Oct 1950). Italian tenor. Of humble origin, he studied with Alessandro Busi at Bologna, and made his début in Charles Gounod's Faust at Castelfranco Veneto in 1892. During the following years he sang in Turin, Madrid and St Petersburg; at La Scala in 1896 he took the part of Andrea Chénier with great success in the opera's first performance. Over the next ten years he appeared in the leading Italian theatres and in Spain, Portugal and Argentina, most notably as Des Grieux in Giacomo Puccini's Manon Lescaut and as Cavaradossi, a role he sang in the Milan première of Tosca in 1900. From 1906 he devoted himself to Richard Wagner (having already sung Siegfried and Tristan at La Scala in 1899 and 1900 under Arturo Toscanini) with exceptional results. In 1914, after appearing in the Italian première of Parsifal (see illustration) at Bologna and La Scala, he was forced by glaucoma to retire from the stage, and in 1923 he became completely blind. He performed for the last time at a concert in Bologna in 1927, and subsequently devoted himself to teaching. His autobiography, La mia vita d'artista, was published in Bologna in 1927.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.