Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Dec 13, 2013

Antonio Cortis (Tenor) (Altea, Spain 1891- Denia, Spain 1952)

Cortis was born at sea but his birthplace is often given as Valencia, in which city he spent his infancy. (His name was originally Antonio Monton Corts but he changed it for theatrical purposes.) He studied music at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid and sang in a children's choir. In 1909, he and his widowed mother moved from Madrid to Barcelona, where he attended the local conservatory.
He made his stage debut in 1912 at the Liceo in Barcelona as a comprimario singer, but he gradually worked his way up to major roles at a variety of opera houses in Spain and South America, including the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. On the South American tour of 1917, the young tenor was befriended by the Metropolitan Opera star Enrico Caruso, who encouraged him to pursue his singing career in New York City. Cortis declined Caruso's offer of help due to personal reasons but he would henceforth model his singing technique on Caruso's great example.
His international career began in earnest with successful appearances in Naples and, more importantly, at Rome's Teatro Costanzi in 1920, where he signed a three-year contract. He proceeded to sing in Stockholm, Milan, Latin America and Berlin and, most famously, with the esteemed company at the Chicago Civic Opera from 1924 to 1932. His debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, occurred in 1931, as Calaf in Puccini's Turandot. He appeared often on the Italian opera-house circuit during the early 1930s but success at Milan's La Scala, with its entrenched roster of popular Italian-born tenors, eluded him.
Cortis came to be regarded as one of the best inter-war interpreters of verismo opera. He was particularly praised for his performances of Calaf and of Dick Johnson in Puccini's La fanciulla del West, while he sang with remarkable ease the strenuous music composed for the tenor voice by Umberto Giordano and Pietro Mascagni. Cortis also undertook Verdi roles, such as the Duke in Rigoletto, which he delivered with impressive skill and style.
He chose to spend the final phase of his career in Spain as the Great Depression deeply affected the economies of America and other parts of the world. Although his voice was still in good condition, he withdrew from the operatic stage in the mid-1930s. His decision to retire was influenced by the onset of the Spanish Civil War. He composed some vocal works during this period and founded a school for singers in Valencia in 1940. After World War II, he came out of retirement to appear occasionally in Spanish operas and other works. His health deteriorated in the early 1950s and he died at the age of 60 in Valencia

Chronology of some appearances

1920 Rome Teatro Costanzi Canio (Leoncavallo)
1924-1932 Chicago Civic Opera House
1927 Chicago Civic Opera House Loreley (Walter)
1931 London Covent Garden Turandot (Calaf)


Gramophone, Barcelona 1918-09
El Dormiro Azul (Arrieta): Jota 2-62226, AA69

Gramophone, Barcelona 1918-10-11
La Alegria del Batallon (Serrano): Cancion del Soledad 2-62225, AA69

Parlophon, Berlin 1923-10-04
Ballo in maschera (Verdi): Forse la soglia P1596 6464
Ballo in maschera (Verdi): Ma se m'e forza perderti P1596 6465
Amico Fritz (Mascagni): O amore, o bella luce del core P1597 6467

Parlophon, Berlin 1923-10-05
Fanciulla del West (Puccini): Or son sei mesi P1579 6469

Parlophon, Berlin 1923-10-06
Madama Butterfly (Puccini): Io t'ho ghermita with Zita Fumagalli-Riva P1581 6475

Parlophon, Berlin 1923-10-08
Werther (Massenet): O natura di gracia piena P1579 6477
Andrea Chenier (Giordano): Vedi? la luce with Zita Fumagalli-Riva P1581 6482

Parlophon, Berlin 1923-10-12
Otello (Verdi): Si pel ciel with Enrico de Franceschi P1609 6498
Boheme (Puccini): O soave fanciulla with Zita Fumagalli-Riva P1612 6502

Victor, Camden NJ 1925-09-03
Doсa Francisquita (Vives): Mujer fatal 6554 CVE33400

Victor, Camden NJ 1925-09-04
Una Vieja (Gaztambide): Un espaсol que vien (Cavatina) 1118 BVE33403
Bohème (Puccini): Mimì è una civetta unpubl BVE33405
Favorita (Donizetti): Una vergine unpubl BVE33406

Victor, Camden NJ 1927-03-25
Calabazas (Cortis) 1241 BVE37870
El Tropezon (Mojica-Cortis) 1241 BVE37871

Victor, Camden NJ 1927-03-28
Cena delle Beffe (Giordano): Mi svesti 1240 BVE37869
Cena delle Beffe (Giordano): Ah, che tormento 1240 BVE37873

Victor, Camden NJ 1927-09-08
Alegria del Batallon (Serrano): Cancion del soldado 1118 BVE33404
Boheme (Puccini): Mimi e una civetta 1125 BVE33405
Favorita (Donizetti): Una vergine 1125 BVE33406

HMV, Milano 1929-09-19
Tosca (Puccini): Recondita armonia DA1074 30-1652
Tosca (Puccini): E lucevan le stelle DA1074 30-1653
Turandot (Puccini): Nessun dorma DA1075 30-1654

HMV, Milano 1929-09-20
Werther (Massenet): Ah, non mi ridestar DA1076 30-1655
Carmen (Bizet): Il fior DB1363 32-893

HMV, Milano 1929-09-23
Turandot (Puccini): Non piangere, Liu DA1075 30-1656
Manon (Massenet): Ah, dispar, vision DB1363 32-894
Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni): O Lola (Siciliana) DA1277 30-1657

HMV, Milano 1929-09-25
Iris (Mascagni): Apri la tua finestra DA1076 30-1658

HMV, Milano 1930-09
Carmen (Bizet): La tua madre with Anna Rosza DB1749
Africana (Meyerbeer): O paradiso DA1154
Rigoletto (Verdi): Questa o quella DA1153
Rigoletto (Verdi): Ella mi fu rapita DA1152  BF3449-1
Rigoletto (Verdi): Parmi veder le lagrime DA1152 BF3449-2

HMV, Milano 1930-09-23
Boheme (Puccini): Che gelida manina DB1468 32-1774
Andrea Chenier (Giordano): Io non ho amato ancor DA1154

HMV, Milano 1930-09-25/26
Trovatore (Verdi): Ah si ben mio DA1155
Trovatore (Verdi): Di quella pira (w. chorus) DA1155

HMV, Milano 1930-09-26/28
Rigoletto (Verdi): La donna e mobile DA1153
Faust (Gounod): Salve dimora DB1468 32-1775

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