Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

May 22, 2012

Roberto Vanni (Tenor) (Milan 1861 – ? 1941)

Probably he made his debut in 1885 at the Teatro Comunale of Ferrara as Macduff in ‘’Macbeth’’. From 1889 to 1891 he made guest appearances in Montevideo appearing in ‘’Aida’’, ‘’Africana’’, ‘’Mefistofele’’, ‘’Rigoletto’’ and ‘’Fra’ Diavolo’’.  In 1893 Vanni sang at the Teatro Doria in Buenos Aires. Here he performed in ‘’Ruy Blas’’, ‘’Faust’’, ‘’Falastaff’’ and ‘’Pagliacci’’. He sang with Henry Abbey's Italian Grand Opera Company, starring Patti and Tamagno, on tour in 1889-90. At the Metropolitan Opera for seven seasons, he made his debut as the Fisherman in ''William Tell''. November 21, 1894. In 1902-03, his last season, he appeared sixty-eight times between Roderigo in the opening-night ''Otello'', on November 24, and Vogelgesang in the ''Meistersinger'' that closed the tour on April 25 in Pittsburgh. His other roles that season were the Sergeant in ''Barbiere di Siviglia'', the Messenger in ''Aida'', Gaston in ''Traviata'', Borsa in ''Rigoletto'', a Peasant and a Herald in ''Prophète'', Alcindoro and Parpignol in ''Bohème'', De Cossé in ''Huguenots'', Remendado in ''Carmen'', Don Riccardo in ''Ernani'', a Servant in ''Ballo in maschera'', a Priest in The ''Magic Flute'', the Notary in ''Don Pasquale'', and Ruiz in ''Trovatore''. He was paid $40 per week, $880 for the season.

Chronology of some appearances

1885 Ferrara Teatro Comunale Macbeth (Macduff)
1889 Montevideo Teatro Ciblis Aida (Messaggero)
1891 Montevideo Teatro Solis Rigoletto (Duca)
1893 Buenos Aires Teatro Doria Ruy Blas (Ruy Blas)
1895 Boston Opera House Pagliacci (Arlecchino)
1897 New York Teatro Metropolitan Ugonotti (Coss¨)
1899 New York Teatro Metropolitan Aida (Messaggero)
1901 New York Teatro Metropolitan Don Pasquale (Notaro)
1903 New York Teatro Metropolitan Ernani (Don Riccardo)
1909 Boston Opera House Lucia di Lammermoor (Normanno)
1910 Chicago  Auditorium Faust (Wagner)



Bettini cylinders, New York 1899?
Otello (Verdi): Esultate & Sante memorie 1

Columbia, New York 1903
Non e ver (Mattei)  1231


  1. I'm his great grandson. He sang with Marcella Sembrich for a time, she has a CD of old wax cylinders, he's listed as being on a few tracks. That's about all I know of him, you seem to know more about him than I, he passed away decades before I was born. There's a Marcella Sembrich museum in upstate New York, perhaps I'll visit there some day. Thank you very much for this information, you're an archivist of royal proportions.

  2. Thanks for the info and sample of the voice of my great-grandfather.

  3. Roberto Vanni is my great great grandfather. I have been researching him for quite some time now. Thank you so much for this page, the photo you have included is the only photo I have of him as of now. Please note, he was born in Florence, Italy in 1860, not Milan in 1861. He died in 1943 in Milan, Italy at the Guiseppa Verdi Musician's Home.

    1. Hello! Roberto Vanni is also my great great grandfather! My great grandfather, one of Roberto's sons, went off on his own and has never really shared with our branch of the family much about our history. All we have are some pictures, some newspaper clippings, a birth certificate, and a bunch of rumors. If you could please contact me, I would love to exchange notes.

    2. Hello
      Dear Julie thanks a lot for your comment, please tell me can you send me photo of Roberto Vanni/JPEG format??? I will add here.