Carlo Guasco

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Carlo Guasco (1813-1876) Carlo Guasco.jpg
Carlo Guasco (1813–1876)

Carlo Guasco (16 March 1813 – 13 December 1876) was a celebrated Italian operatic tenor who sang in Italian and other European opera houses from 1837 to 1853. Although he sang in many world premieres, he is most remembered today for having created the leading tenor roles in Verdi's I Lombardi alla prima crociata , Ernani , and Attila .

Tenor is a male voice type in classical music whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.

Giuseppe Verdi 19th-century Italian opera composer

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian opera composer. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

<i>I Lombardi alla prima crociata</i> opera by Giuseppe Verdi

I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata is an operatic dramma lirico in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on an epic poem by Tommaso Grossi, which was "very much a child of its age; a grand historical novel with a patriotic slant". Its first performance was given at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on 11 February 1843. Verdi dedicated the score to Maria Luigia, the Habsburg Duchess of Parma, who died a few weeks after the premiere.



Carlo Guasco was born in Solero, a small town in the Piedmont region of Italy. He showed an early talent for music and singing as well as mathematics, and initially trained as a surveyor at the University of Turin. [1] He also studied piano with his cousin, Giuseppe Guasco. When the voice teacher and composer, Giacomo Panizza, heard Guasco's voice, he convinced him to give up his work as a surveyor and study with him in Milan. Guasco overcame the objections of his family to a career on the stage and began his studies with Panizza in September 1836. After only a few months, he made his stage debut at La Scala singing the relatively minor role of Ruodi in the 1837 production of Rossini's William Tell . His debut was a great success and he soon went on to create the leading tenor roles in several operas, most notably in Donizetti's Maria di Rohan (1843) and Verdi's I Lombardi alla prima crociata (1843), Ernani (1844), and Attila (1846). During the course of his career, he sang throughout Italy, as well as in Paris, London, Madrid, Saint Petersburg, and Vienna.

Piedmont Region of Italy

Piedmont is a region in northwest Italy, one of the 20 regions of the country. It borders the Liguria region to the south, the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions to the east and the Aosta Valley region to the northwest; it also borders France to the west and Switzerland to the northeast. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres (9,808 sq mi) and a population of 4 377 941 as of 30 November 2017. The capital of Piedmont is Turin.

University of Turin university in Turin, Italy

The University of Turin is a university in the city of Turin in the Piedmont region of north-western Italy. It is one of the oldest universities in Europe, and continues to play an important role in research and training. It is steadily ranked among the top 5 Italian universities and it is ranked third for research activities in Italy, according to the latest data by ANVUR.

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,372,810 while its metropolitan area has a population of 3,244,365. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Guasco's voice, described by contemporary critics as "sweet rather than robust", [2] was well suited to the operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Pacini, and Mercadante, which formed his core repertoire in the early years of his career. However his voice was neither sweet nor robust in his performance on the opening night of Ernani. A displeased Verdi wrote, "Yesterday we heard Ernani with Guasco without a voice and appallingly hoarse." [3] Guasco was hoarse from shouting all afternoon at the management of La Fenice, [4] where the opera premiered on 9 March 1844. The backstage areas were in chaos, with the sets still not ready and costumes missing. One of his tirades reportedly went on for more than an hour. [5] He was also nervous about taking on a role which he felt was ill-suited to his voice, and as late as three weeks before the premiere, he had tried to withdraw from the production. [6] Nevertheless, the opening night was a success for Verdi, and once Guasco settled into the role, Verdi's friend, Giovanni Barezzi, reported that Guasco's subsequent performances in the run were much improved. [7] Guasco sang Ernani again for its first performance at La Scala in September 1844. This time the critic for Il Bazar wrote:

Giovanni Pacini Italian composer

Giovanni Pacini was an Italian composer, best known for his operas. Pacini was born in Catania, Sicily, the son of the buffo Luigi Pacini, who was to appear in the premieres of many of Giovanni's operas. The family was of Tuscan origin, and just happened to be in Catania when the composer was born.

Saverio Mercadante Italian composer

Giuseppe Saverio Raffaele Mercadante was an Italian composer, particularly of operas. While Mercadante may not have retained the international celebrity of Gaetano Donizetti or Gioachino Rossini beyond his own lifetime, he composed as prolific a number of works as either; and his development of operatic structures, melodic styles and orchestration contributed significantly to the foundations upon which Giuseppe Verdi built his dramatic technique.

<i>La Fenice</i> Opera house in Venice, Italy

Teatro La Fenice is an opera house in Venice, Italy. It is one of "the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre", and in the history of opera as a whole. Especially in the 19th century, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres at which the works of several of the four major bel canto era composers – Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi – were performed.

The Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in
Saint Petersburg where Carlo Guasco sang from 1846 to 1848 Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre 1825.jpg
The Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in
Saint Petersburg where Carlo Guasco sang from 1846 to 1848

The always excellent first tenor, Carlo Guasco, gifted with a superbly even voice, sang and acted the role of the protagonist with exquisite artistry ... he persuaded everyone he is still a vocalist of the first magnitude and has no rivals when it comes to singing gracefully, sweetly, and emotionally. [8]

After singing in Ferrara in the spring of 1846, Guasco went to Saint Petersburg on a contract with the Imperial Italian Opera. He appeared there with great success in Ernani, Maria di Rohan, Norma , I due Foscari , I Lombardi alla prima crociata, and Linda di Chamounix . At the end of the 1848 season, despite the offer of renewed contract, he returned to Italy and Solero, the town of his birth. He took what proved to be a temporary break from his career, devoting himself to the activities that he had enjoyed in his youth, especially hunting. In August 1851 he married, and at the urging of his young wife took up his career again. He accepted the offer of a contract for the 1852 carnival season at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, where he again had a success in Ernani. However, political upheaval following the French coup of 1851, led to half-empty theatres, making life difficult for the impresarios and singers alike. In the spring of 1853, he was offered a contract for a few performances in Vienna, after which he retired from the stage. [9] He returned again to Solero, where he became active in the town's administration. He also taught singing. His most notable pupil was the dramatic tenor, Giovanni Battista De Negri, who became a famous interpreter of Verdi's Otello.

Ferrara Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital of the Province of Ferrara. As of 2016 it had 132,009 inhabitants. It is situated 44 kilometres northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north. The town has broad streets and numerous palaces dating from the Renaissance, when it hosted the court of the House of Este. For its beauty and cultural importance, it has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

<i>Norma</i> (opera) opera by Vincenzo Bellini

Norma is a tragedia lirica or opera in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini with libretto by Felice Romani after the play Norma, ou L'infanticide by Alexandre Soumet. It was first produced at La Scala in Milan on 26 December 1831.

<i>I due Foscari</i> opera by Giuseppe Verdi

I due Foscari is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on a historical play, The Two Foscari by Lord Byron.

Carlo Guasco died in Solero on 13 December 1876 at the age of 63.


Eugenia Tadolini, Giorgio Ronconi, and Carlo Guasco in the final scene of Donizetti's Maria di Rohan at its world premiere in Vienna on 5 June 1843 Maria di Rohan Premiere - Final Scene.jpg
Eugenia Tadolini, Giorgio Ronconi, and Carlo Guasco in the final scene of Donizetti's Maria di Rohan at its world premiere in Vienna on 5 June 1843
<i>William Tell</i> (opera) opera by Gioacchino Rossini

William Tell is a French-language opera in four acts by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Victor-Joseph Étienne de Jouy and L. F. Bis, based on Friedrich Schiller's play William Tell, which, in turn, drew on the William Tell legend. The opera was Rossini's last, although he lived for nearly 40 more years. Fabio Luisi said that Rossini planned for William Tell to be his last opera even as he composed it. The often-performed overture in four sections features a depiction of a storm and a vivacious finale, the "March of the Swiss Soldiers."

Gioachino Rossini 19th-century Italian opera composer

Gioachino Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas, although he also wrote many songs, some chamber music and piano pieces, and some sacred music. He set new standards for both comic and serious opera before retiring from large-scale composition while still in his thirties, at the height of his popularity.

<i>Lucia di Lammermoor</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian-language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.

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  1. Regli (1860) p. 253
  2. quoted in Modugno (1989) p.281
  3. Giuseppe Verdi quoted in Kimbell (1985) p. 135
  4. Kimbell (1985) p. 135
  5. Phillips-Matz (1993) p. 158
  6. Kimbell (1985) p. 132
  7. Kimbell (1985) p. 135
  8. Il Bazar, 7 September 1844 quoted in Conati (1989) p. 247
  9. This account of the final years of Guasco's career is based on Regli (1860) pp. 255-256