Achille De Bassini


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(b Milan, 5 May 1819; d Cava de’ Tirreni, 3 Sept 1881). Italian baritone. He was the type of the ‘noble’ baritone for whom Giuseppe Verdi wrote parts exploiting a high tessitura, firm legato and dramatic power such as to make traditionalists complain that he shouted. He made his début in 1837 at Voghera in the title role of Gaetano Donizetti's Belisario. At La Scala he succeeded in other Donizetti roles, and as William Tell, Figaro (Barbiere) and Carlo (Ernani). He created three Verdi roles: the Doge in I due Foscari (1844, Rome), Seid in Il corsaro (1848, Trieste) and Miller in Luisa Miller (1849, Naples); he also sang in Attila. Verdi wanted him for Rigoletto in 1851. In 1859 he sang at Covent Garden as Germont, Rodolfo (La sonnambula) and Luna, and in Saverio Mercadante's Il giuramento. Perhaps because of losses in the 1848–9 revolutions, he spent years in St Petersburg, where Verdi wrote for him the part of Melitone in La forza del destino (1862), commenting that he had a ‘humorous’ vein perfectly suited to the character. He was still singing in Italy in 1871. His wife, the soprano Rita Gabussi (b Bologna, c 1815; d Naples, 26 Jan 1891), sang at La Scala and at S Carlo, where she created Mercadante's Medea (1851) and was Verdi's original choice for Azucena. She also created a furore in the mad role of the seconda donna in Federico Ricci's La prigione di Edimburgo (1838, Trieste). Their son, Alberto De Bassini (b Florence, 14 July 1847; d after c 1906), sang as a tenor in Italy and Russia, but in 1890 be became a baritone and later sang with touring companies in the USA; about 1906 he was teaching in New York. He made records in 1902–4.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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