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Riccardo Stracciari

(1875—1955)


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Boris Christoff (1914—1993)

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Titta Ruffo (1877—1953)

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(b Casalecchio di Reno, nr Bologna, 26 June 1875; d Rome, 10 Oct 1955). Italian baritone. After studying briefly at the Bologna Conservatory he sang in the chorus in operetta (1894), then continued his studies with Umberto Masetti at Bologna. He made his début in Firenze in 1898 in Lorenzo Perosi's oratorio La resurrezione di Lazzaro; his solo operatic début followed a few days later in La bohème at the Teatro Duse in Bologna. In the 1900–01 and 1902–3 seasons he appeared at Lisbon, then at La Scala (1904–6, 1908–9), Covent Garden (1905), the Metropolitan (1906–8), the Paris Opéra (1909), the Real, Madrid (1909–11), and other leading theatres. He then sang mostly in Italy (especially Rome), Spain and Argentina, though from 1917 to 1919 he was a member of the Chicago Opera Association. His vocal decline can be dated from 1928, but though he devoted himself to teaching, first in Naples (1926), then later in Milan and Rome (Boris Christoff and Paolo Silveri were among his pupils), he did not leave the stage until 1942, and in 1944 appeared again in La traviata at the Teatro Lirico, Milan. Stracciari's mellow, velvety voice, coloured and resonant over its whole range, with an extended and penetrating upper register, made him, between 1905 and 1915, the rival of Titta Ruffo and Pasquale Amato. His repertory included all the great baritone roles and among the dramatic parts he preferred those in Il trovatore, Rigoletto and Aida. But, thanks to a technique characteristic of the best traditions of the 19th century, he excelled in works which allowed him to display his courtly enunciation, smooth singing, elegant phrasing and musical delicacy: La favorite, Ernani and above all La traviata, in which he played the heavy father with exceptional, gripping effect. He was also a noted Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, a role that well displayed his brilliant high notes and which, like Rigoletto, he recorded in 1929. But his voice is heard at its freest and finest in the recordings he made for Fonotipia (1904–15) and Columbia (1917–25).

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.


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