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Cesare Valletti (December 18, 1922 - May 13, 2000) was an Italian operatic tenor, one of the leading tenore di grazia of the postwar era. He was much admired for his polished vocal technique, his musical refinement and elegance, and beauty of tone.
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 A♭2 (two A♭s 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.
Tenore di grazia, also called leggero tenor, is a lightweight, flexible tenor voice type. The tenor roles written in the early 19th-century Italian operas are invariably leggero tenor roles, especially those by Rossini such as Lindoro in L'italiana in Algeri, Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola, and Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia; and those by Bellini such as Gualtiero in Il pirata, Elvino in La sonnambula and Arturo in I puritani. Many Donizetti roles, such as Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore and Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Tonio in La fille du régiment, are also tenore di grazia roles. One of the most famous leggero tenors of that period was Giovanni Battista Rubini, for whom Bellini wrote nearly all his operas.
Valletti was born in Rome, where he studied music. He also studied privately with Tito Schipa. He made his debut in Bari, as Alfredo in La traviata , in 1947. He came to prominence in 1950, when he sang in Il turco in Italia , opposite Maria Callas, in Rome. In the same year he made his debut at La Scala in Milan, singing Fenton in Falstaff , a role he reprised when the company took the production to Covent Garden later that year.
Tito Schipa was an Italian tenor, considered the greatest tenore di grazia and one of the most popular tenors of the century.
La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La Dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. The opera was originally titled Violetta, after the main character. It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.
Il turco in Italia is an opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The Italian-language libretto was written by Felice Romani. It was a re-working of a libretto by Caterino Mazzolà set as an opera by the German composer Franz Seydelmann in 1788.
In 1951 Valletti went to Mexico City to sing La traviata with Maria Callas. He also partnered her in the famous Visconti production of La sonnambula , conducted by Leonard Bernstein, at La Scala in 1955, and again in La traviata at Covent Garden in 1958.
Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo, was an Italian theatre, opera and cinema director, as well as a screenwriter. He is best known for his films Ossessione (1943), Senso (1954), Rocco and His Brothers (1960), The Leopard (1963) and Death in Venice (1971).
La sonnambula is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini set to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani, based on a scenario for a ballet-pantomime written by Eugène Scribe and choreographed by Jean-Pierre Aumer called La somnambule, ou L'arrivée d'un nouveau seigneur. The ballet had premiered in Paris in September 1827 at the height of a fashion for stage works incorporating somnambulism.
Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the US to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history."
In September 1953 he made his American debut at the San Francisco Opera in the title role of Werther , opposite Giulietta Simionato as Charlotte, and later that same year, in December, he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, singing Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni . Other roles at the Met included Tamino, Almaviva, Nemorino, Ernesto, Alfredo, and des Grieux. His career at the Met ended abruptly in November 1960 when manager Rudolf Bing replaced Valletti, for no apparent reason, after dress rehearsal in a new production of L'elisir d'amore . Valletti left the Met and thereafter refused numerous offers to return.
San Francisco Opera (SFO) is an American opera company, based in San Francisco, California.
Werther is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann. It is loosely based on the German epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which was based both on fact and on Goethe's own early life. Earlier examples of operas using the story were made by Kreutzer (1792) and Pucitta (1802).
Giulietta Simionato was an Italian mezzo-soprano. Her career spanned the period from the 1930s until her retirement in 1966. She famously slapped Maria Callas across the face once, although eventually the two became friends.
In 1958, he sang, with Maria Callas and Mario Zanasi, the "London Traviata" that is known as one of the best performances of this opera.
In the 1960s Valletti returned to Italy, where he was particularly popular at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence. He extended his range to art song, and became a highly respected recitalist. Valletti officially retired in 1967, but returned in 1968 to appear at the Caramoor Festival in New York. There he sang his last role, Nerone in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea .
The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is an annual Italian arts festival in Florence, including a notable opera festival, under the auspices of the Opera di Firenze. The festival occurs between late April into June annually, typically with four operas.
An art song is a vocal music composition, usually written for one voice with piano accompaniment, and usually in the classical art music tradition. By extension, the term "art song" is used to refer to the collective genre of such songs. An art song is most often a musical setting of an independent poem or text, "intended for the concert repertory" "as part of a recital or other relatively formal social occasion". While many pieces of vocal music are easily recognized as art songs, others are more difficult to categorize. For example, a wordless vocalise written by a classical composer is sometimes considered an art song and sometimes not.
Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi was an Italian composer, string player and choirmaster. A composer of both secular and sacred music, and a pioneer in the development of opera, he is considered a crucial transitional figure between the Renaissance and the Baroque periods of music history.
After retirement he flourished in a new career in his father-in-law's pasta machine making business. Valletti was married to Nicoletta Braibanti, a granddaughter of Italian composer Ildebrando Pizzetti. Valletti died of a heart attack in Genoa, Italy, while undergoing treatment for liver cancer.
Ildebrando Pizzetti was an Italian composer of classical music, musicologist and music critic.
He can be heard on "live recordings" in the two aforementioned historical performances of La sonnambula and La traviata with Maria Callas. Valletti can also be heard in a "lighter" cast version of Madama Butterfly which paired him with Anna Moffo.
Renata Ersilia Clotilde Tebaldi was an Italian lirico-spinto soprano popular in the post-war period. Among the most beloved opera singers, she has been said to have possessed one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century, a voice that was focused primarily on the verismo roles of the lyric and dramatic repertoires.
Renata Scotto is an Italian soprano and opera director.
Lamberto Gardelli was a Swedish conductor of Italian birth, particularly associated with the Italian opera repertory, especially the works of Giuseppe Verdi.
Franco Bonisolli was an Italian operatic tenor, particularly associated with the Italian repertory, notably as Manrico and Calaf.
Ettore Bastianini was an Italian opera singer who was particularly associated with the operas of the bel canto tradition.
Peter Forbes Robinson was a British bass, born in Macclesfield, best known for his performances in works by Mozart, Verdi, and Britten.
Lorenzo Molajoli was an Italian opera conductor who was active in recording during the 1920s and 1930s.
Roberto Abbado is an Italian opera and symphonic music conductor. Currently he is Artistic Partner of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In 2015 he has been appointed Music Director of Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain. From 2018 he's Music Director of the Festival Verdi in Parma. Previously he held the position of Chief Conductor of Münchner Rundfunkorchester.
Ferruccio Tagliavini was an Italian operatic tenor mainly active in the 1940s and 1950s. Tagliavini was hailed as the heir apparent to Tito Schipa and Beniamino Gigli in the lyric-opera repertory due to the exceptional beauty of his voice, but he did not sustain his great early promise across the full span of his career.
Alberto Erede was an Italian conductor, particularly associated with operatic work.
Franco Capuana was an Italian conductor.
Sesto Bruscantini was an Italian baritone, one of the greatest buffo singers of the post-war era, especially renowned in Mozart and Rossini.
Gianni Raimondi was an Italian lyric tenor, particularly associated with the Italian repertory.
Alda Noni was an Italian soprano leggiero, one of the leading soubrette of the immediate postwar period.
Caterina Mancini was an Italian dramatic coloratura soprano, primarily active in Italy in the 1950s.
Afro Poli was an Italian operatic baritone, particularly associated with the Italian repertory.
Mario Petri was an Italian operatic bass-baritone particularly associated with Mozart and Rossini roles.
Manno Wolf-Ferrari (1911–1994) was an Italian conductor, nephew of composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari.
Giuseppe Nessi was an Italian operatic tenor.