Gino Penno

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Gino Penno (1920–1998) was an Italian tenor, who enjoyed a short but brilliant career in opera in the 1950s.

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.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Penno was born in Felizzano, Italy, and studied with Ettore Campogalliani. After winning a singing competition, he entered the Scuola di Canto of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. While still a student, he sang a number of comprimario roles, and appeared in his first leading role in 1950, Floreski in Cherubini's Lodoiska .

Felizzano Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Felizzano is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Alessandria in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southeast of Turin and about 15 kilometres (9 mi) west of Alessandria. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 2,405 and an area of 25.2 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi).

A comprimario is a small supporting role in an opera. The word is derived from the Italian "con primario", or "with the primary", meaning that the comprimario role is not a principal role. The term usually refers to characters who do not sing any full-length arias or long scenes.

In the early 1950s, he became known throughout Italy, as a highly competent heldentenor, singing Siegfried at the Verona Arena and Lohengrin in Rome. He also partnered the new diva Maria Callas in Norma , Macbeth , Il trovatore , and Medea , in various theatres in Italy.

<i>Der Ring des Nibelungen</i> series of four operas by Richard Wagner

Der Ring des Nibelungen, WWV 86, is a cycle of four German-language epic music dramas composed by Richard Wagner. The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. The composer termed the cycle a "Bühnenfestspiel", structured in three days preceded by a Vorabend. It is often referred to as the Ring Cycle, Wagner's Ring, or simply The Ring.

Verona Arena Roman amphitheatre in Verona, Italy

The Verona Arena is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy built in the first century. It is still in use today and is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there. It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. In ancient times, nearly 30,000 people was the housing capacity of the Arena. Nowadays, for security reasons, the maximum attendance is 15,000 people. It would be used as the closing ceremony if Milan/Cortina d'Ampezzo is awarded the 2026 Winter Olympics.

<i>Lohengrin</i> (opera) opera by Richard Wagner

Lohengrin, WWV 75, is a Romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself inspired by the epic of Garin le Loherain. It is part of the Knight of the Swan tradition.

In 1951, his career took an international turn. He appeared at the Paris Opéra, the Liceo in Barcelona, the Monte Carlo Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Royal Opera House in London.

Palais Garnier opera house in Paris, France

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The theatre is also often referred to as the Opéra Garnier and historically was known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Paris Opera now uses the Palais Garnier mainly for ballet.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

By the end of the 1950s he was gone from the international opera scene. The reason of his retirement is unknown, different sources adduce health problems, a loss of voice, or a wish for a career as a lawyer!

Penno died in Milan, on February 8, 1998, aged 77.

He can be heard on a few radio broadcasts from RAI, notably Ernani and Attila , opposite Caterina Mancini, and Macbeth, with Callas.

RAI Italys national public service

RAI – Radiotelevisione italiana (Italian pronunciation: [ˈrai ˌradjoteleviˈzjoːne itaˈljaːna]; commercially styled as Rai since 2000; known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane is the national public broadcasting company of Italy, owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

<i>Ernani</i> opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Ernani is an operatic dramma lirico in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Hernani by Victor Hugo.

<i>Attila</i> (opera) opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Attila is an opera in a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on the 1809 play Attila, König der Hunnen by Zacharias Werner. The opera received its first performance at La Fenice in Venice on 17 March 1846.

Penno lost his voice during a Trovatore at the Met in 1956. He was barely able to continue the performance. Though he appeared once more that season as a last minute replacement for Kurt Baum after the latter cancelled a Forza del destino following act two, it was the end of his American career and it would seem the end of his career on the major opera house circuit.

He seems to have continued in smaller opera houses in Italy for a few more seasons.

An important document of him at his best is an Italian language performance of Wagner's Lohengrin from Naples, broadcast on November 20, 1954. The cast includes Renata Tebaldi and is conducted by Gabriele Santini. It is currently on CD on the Hardy label. He was very highly thought of both for his musicianship and his reportedly enormous voice, of magnificent quality.


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