Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Dec 15, 2013

Giuseppe Campanari (Baritone) (Venice 1855 – Milan 1927)

He was an Italian-born operatic baritone and cellist. He later became an American citizen. Campanari performed initially as a cellist at Milan's La Scala and on tour in other parts of  Europe, but he later emigrated to the United States, where he played first solo cello for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was subsequently appointed professor of cello at the New England Conservatory of Music inBoston. He resigned from both positions to devote himself to singing, which he had studied as a second 'instrument' for years, becoming a major opera star with the Metropolitan Opera. In addition, he appeared at most of the major opera houses in Europe, including several seasons spent at the Royal Opera in London's Covent Garden, and participated in concert tours with the great sopranos Nordica, Sembrich, Melba and Eames. Giuseppe Campanari was born in Venice in 1855 and was hailed as a cello virtuoso by the age of nine. He toured Europe with his brother Leandro, giving concerts in the larger European cities. At the age of seventeen he was appointed first solo cellist at La Scala in Milan under conductor Alberto Mazzucato. During his career as a cellist, he appeared frequently in chamber music concerts with leading artistes such as Joachim, Wieniawski and Saint-Saսns At the same time, vocal art attracted him greatly and he studied voice on the side. His first attempt as an opera singer was in Un ballo in maschera at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan in 1880. After singing in the leading Italian cities, he went to Spain. According to Imdb, his wife was named Mary but this information is questionable. Campanari was invited to the United States by the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and arrived in 1884, again taking the position of first solo cellist under conductor Wilhelm Gericke. In 1888 he became one of the original members of the Adamowski String Quartet which was led by violinist Timothee Adamowski. He first sang Valentine in Faust with the Emma Juch Opera Company when their baritone, Alonzo Stoddard, fell ill, but it was not mentioned in the papers so nothing became of it. He continued to play cello but didn't sing professionally for two years. Finally, after the prominent conductor Arthur Nikisch gave him an opening in Louisville, Kentucky, he started to receive more engagements. Campanari made his official operatic debut as Tonio in I Pagliacci with Hinrichs' Opera Company in New York City on 15 June 1893, being the first singer to perform the role in the United States. His New York Metropolitan Opera debut came on 30 November 1894, when he sang the role of the Count di Luna in Il trovatore with the great heroic tenor Tamagno as Manrico. In 1895, he had his first notable success singing Ford in the first American production of Falstaff, with Victor Maurel in the title role. He also sang the Met's first Marcello in La Boheme (1900) and their first Papageno in Die Zauberflute (1902–1903) which was performed in Italian. Campanari remained with the Met until 1912. He gave more than 200 performances during his career there. After his retirement from serious music, he briefly dabbled in vaudeville but found the two-show-a-day schedule too gruelling at his age. He then taught voice in New York and later in Milan where his daughter Marina achieved success as a soprano. He died in Milan in 1927 at the age of 71. Campanari made a number of acoustic recordings prior to World War I. His first recording session was with the Columbia label in 1903. Despite the early date of his discs, they are remarkable for their clarity, and they display the warmth and agility of his fine, steady, well-trained voice to good effect.

Chronology of some appearances

1880 Lecco Sociale Forza del destino (Don Carlo)
1880 Sanremo Principe Amedeo Forza del destino (Don Carlo)
1880 Sanremo Principe Amedeo Favorita (Alfonso)


Bettini cylinders, New York 1897 - 1899

Carmen (Bizet): Toreador song 1

Columbia, New York 1903
Faust (Gounod): Dio possente 1224
Serenata (Seppilli) 1225
Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini): Largo al factotum 1226
Carmen (Bizet): Toreador song 1227
Africaine (Meyerbeer): All'erta, marinar 1445

Columbia, New York 1909-04-12
Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Prologue 30243 A5126

Columbia, New York 1910-05-10
Myosotis (Tirindelli) 30264 A5126

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