Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Oct 26, 2014

Salvatore Baccaloni (Bass) (Rome 1900 – New York City 1969)

After attending the Sistine Chapel choir school from age seven, he studied voice with the celebrated baritone Giuseppe Kaschmann (Josip Kašman, 1847–1925) and cast aside his initial ambitions to become an architect. He made his professional debut as Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, at Rome's Teatro Adriano, in 1922. He sang for the first time at La Scala, Milan, in 1926, in Ildebrando Pizzetti's Debora e Jaele. Initially, he performed the standard bass parts there, such as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Sparafucile in Rigoletto. However, on the advice of La Scala's principal conductor, Arturo Toscanini, he decided to specialise in comic roles. He thus went on to make an indelible impression as Leporello in Don Giovanni, Dulcamara in L'elisir d'amore, the title character in Don Pasquale, Varlaam in Boris Godunov, the title character in Falstaff and the title character in Gianni Schicchi. Baccaloni also sang supporting roles such as Benoit in La bohème and the sacristan in Tosca, infusing them with a lot of humorous stage business. He created several operatic roles, too, including that of L'uomo di legge (the Lawyer) in Umberto Giordano's Il re (at La Scala in 1929) and parts in Riccardo Zandonai's La Farsa amorosa (Rome, 1933) and Vigna by Guerrini (Rome, 1935). Baccaloni enjoyed a successful international career as well, making his debut at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Timur in Turandot in 1928; at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Melitone in La forza del destino in 1930; at the Glyndebourne Festival as Alfonso in Così fan tutte in 1936; at the San Francisco Opera as Leporello in 1938; and, at the Metropolitan Opera, on 7 December 1940, as Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro. He was to remain at the Met until 1962. Baccaloni had his own opera company which toured the United States in the 1940s, Baccaloni Co. Baccaloni also sang often in Philadelphia with a succession of opera companies from 1951 through to 1966. He made his debut with the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company in 1951 in the title role of Don Pasquale, his debut with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company in 1956, as Benoît/Alcindoro La Bohème, and his debut with the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company in 1959, as Benoît/Alcindoro. Salvatore Baccaloni is generally considered to have been the finest comic bass of his era. Rotund in build (at times he weighed more than 300 pounds), he possessed a rich and resonant voice, coupled with impeccable diction and, during the years of his prime in the 1925–50 period, a commendable degree of musicianship. However, he could also display a lack of artistic restraint from time to time when 'live' on stage, owing to the abundance and the exuberance of his comedic talent. He also appeared in several movies during the 1950s and '60s. On 27 April 1959, he appeared as himself on Make Room for Daddy starring Danny Thomas.

Chronology of some appearances

1922 Rome Teatro Adriano
1926 Milan La Scala
1928 London Covent Garden
1929 Milan La Scala
1930 Chicago Lyric Opera
1938 San Francisco Opera
1940 New York Metropolitan Opera


Columbia, Milano
Don Pasquale (Donizetti): Cheti cheti immantinente P.I° II° with Emilio Ghirardini D 5963/D 5963 b 2255/b 2256
Ballo in maschera (Verdi): V'è se di notte pt 1, 2 with Enrico Molinari, Giannina Arangi-Lombardi and Attilio Bordonoali D 14591, D 14591 bx 652, bx 656        
Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti): Chi mi frena with Gino Vanelli, Dino Borgioli, Maria Gentile, Giuseppe Nessi and Ida Mannarini D 18016  bx 104
Crispino e la comare (Ricci): Fermo là with Irma Mion CQX16451    
Aida (Verdi): Quest’assisa with Maria Pia Pagliarini, Mariano Stabile and Erminia  Rubadi b 1160 82599
Un ballo in maschera (Verdi): E scherzo with Aurora Rettore, Alessandro Bonci, Giuseppe Menni and Erminia Rubadi GQX 10148 bx 70      
L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti): Quanto amore! P.I° II°  with Aurora Rettore DQ 244 DQ 244 b 3199/wb 3200    

Columbia, New York 1941-02-06  
Ah! Pietà Signori miei (-); Don Giovanni (Mozart): Madamina, pt 1 71048-D xCo29733
Don Giovanni (Mozart): Madamina, pt 2 71048-D xCo29734

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