Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Dec 15, 2013

Fernando Autori (Bass) (Calatafimi 1886 - Firenze 1937)

First he studied medicine, but then wanted to become a painter, however, finally, he studied singing under Antonio Cantelli in Palermo. He made his debut in 1908 at the Teatro Bellini of Naples. In 1913  he was in Palermo, where at the Teatro Massimo he appeared as king in ‘’Isabeau’’ of Mascagni. He successfully sang in this same opera house in 1916 and 1919. After a guest performance at the Teatro Carcano and at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan he made his debut in 1924 at La Scala, Milan (beginning role: Geronte in 'Manon Lescaut' of Puccini). Here he worked till 1936. He sang at La Scala in the premieres of the operas ‘’La cena delle beffe’’ of Giordano (20.12.1924), ‘’I Cavalieri di Ekebù’’ of Zandonai (7. 3. 1925), ‘’La Sagredo’’ of Franco Vittadini (27. 4. 1930), ‘’Guido del Popolo’’ of Gino Robbiani (25. 3. 933) and ‘’l Campiello’’ of E.Wolf Ferrari (12. 2. 1936). In 1927 att the Teatro Argentina in Rome he appeared in the premiere of the opera ‘’Basi e Bote’’ of R. Pick-Mangiagalli. From 1924 to 1933 he made guest appearances with great success also at Covent Garden in London. There he sang in 1927 the role of Timur in the English première of Puccini’s ‘’Turandot’’. Autori also made guest appearances in Vienna, in Copenhagen, Monte Carlo, Oslo, Hague, Barcelona etc. He retired from the stage in 1941. Like Enrico Caruso he was also a gifted caricaturist.

Chronology of some appearances

1908 Napoli Teatro Bellini Forza Del Destino (Guardiano)
1912 Pistoia Teatro Manzoni   Fedora (Cirillo)
1916 Palermo  Teatro Massimo Fanciulla del West (Wallace)
1920 Lugano Teatro Apollo Barbiere di Siviglia (Don Basilio)
1922 Palermo  Teatro Biondo Forza del destino (Guardiano)
1924 Milano Teatro La Scala  Debora E Jaele di I.Pizzetti (Hever)
1926 Venezia Teatro La Fenice Ugonotti (Saint-Bris)
1928 Catania Teatro Bellini Don Chisciotte (Don Chisciotte)
1931 Barcellona Teatro Liceo Don Giovanni (Leporello)
1933 Torino Teatro Regio Don Chisciotte di J.Massenet (Don Chisciotte)
1936  Milano Teatro La Scala Gioconda (Alvise)
1941 Catania Piazzale G.I.L.Boheme (Colline)

He was great friends with my grandmother and my aunt, whom he met in London in 1932, and I thought you might be interested to know of the amazing singing performance he gave at Covent Garden in 1933!

The following excerpts are taken from my grandmother’s diary of that year – a tour de force that is unrivalled among any opera singer today.  Antonio Pappano has often complained about the lack of stamina of current singers and this proves how a well-trained singer can perform night after night as well as rehearsing other operas during the day without causing any damage to his vocal chords – to say nothing of the party life he was leading at the time!  

May 22nd   We go to hear Aida – Fernando singing Ramfis, the High Priest – go behind after to see Fernando – he takes us to supper at the Savoy.

May 31st    We go to Covent Garden to hear La Boheme – simply lovely, Fernando singing Colline - go behind to wait for him afterwards but he is tired and cross and anxious – we leave him at the Savoy

June 1st      We go to Covent Garden to hear Don Carlos – a beautiful opera.  Fernando as Phillippo II was simply magnificent – such a beautiful voice, such superb acting.  Wait for him afterwards and go with him to the Savoy, where we sit and talk and then come home

Fernando was also a talented cartoonist – I have one he did of my grandfather and there are several at the Royal Opera House in London as well as at the British Museum.

I wish to thank Virginia Tweedy for providing me this information.


Gramophone, Milano 1920-06-01
Complete Faust (Gounod): with Gemma Bosini, Giuliano Romagnoli and Adolfo Pacini

Pathè, Milano 1925?
Boris Godounov (Moussorgsky): Canzone di Varlaam 10422 88181

Parlophon 1926
Mefistofele (Boito) Son lo spirito 20020

Fonotipia, Milano 1927-01-11
Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini): La calunnia 120059 XXPh5813
Trovatore (Verdi): Abbietta zingara 120059 XXPh5814

Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini): La calunnia B3005

HMV, London 1929-11-20
Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini): La calunnia C1842 32-1003
Faust (Gounod): Tu che fai l'addormentata C1842 32-1004

Casanova (Benatzky): Barcarola & Se il cuor ti vuol baciar T-153 m142

Rigoletto (Verdi): Signor? Và non niente with Cesare Formichi 2029-M A960

1 comment:

  1. Some of the cartoons Fernando did for the Doyly Cartes are from the Savoy Office are shown on the Gilbert and Sullivan Society website