Biography of Franco Corelli (1921-2003)

Italian tenor, born in Ancona (Marche region) April 8, 1921, and died in Milan on October 29, 2003. Although his real name was that of Dario, he joined the history of bel canto with the stage name of Franco Corelli. Also known with the nickname of "The Prince of Tenors", it said the critics who was the vocalist who had better interpreted the Italian repertoire in the second half of the 20th century.

He was also stressed, praising him, his special sense of the dramatic demeanor on stage, which betokened, not infrequently, with the histrionismo for his detractors. The main characteristic of his voice was, within the own tenor register, a dye baritone that, in its first steps as operatic performer, was rejected by many due to its lack of consistency. In any case, both his supporters and those who followed him with less enthusiasm noted a peculiarity only in his voice: the emission capretina is say, similar to the sound issuing goat to bleat-, that Corelli, by dint of experience and tenacity, managed to be corrected to achieve a vibrato only, solid in the center of the voice, and generator of the great brilliance of the treble Bell (or squillo).

Born in the bosom of a wealthy family, at first it showed no particular interest for music and singing, and focused rather on his engineering studies. However, in full youth discovered, by chance, their unique skills to operatic interpretation; and animated by its environment, he decided to abandon these studies to begin educating his voice.

It was, as one of the tenors of vocation later in the history of opera, taking into account that had already met the twenty-three years of age when he took his first singing lessons at the Conservatory of Pesaro. There, after dazzling in its beginnings to their teachers and classmates, he began to experience a series of vocal crisis that led him to lose the tessitura of the tenor, so it ended up educating his voice for the registration of baritones and start foguear with secondary roles.

Already in as a tenor, he debuted as a professional singer in 1951, taking part in an Assembly of Carmen by Bizet (1838-1875). The late beginning resulted that, in these first bars of his career, his repertoire was relatively small; Perhaps that is the reason why, and to flee possible prejudices that had prematurely burdened his career, Franco Corelli dared by that time with titles of great rarity in the Opera circuits of the era, such as the modern opera Enea, Guido Guerrini, or the minor role of Pierre Bezukov in the lyrical version of war and peace by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)put in scene in "Maggio Musical Fiorentino" of 1953.

During the rest of the Decade of the fifties, Corelli was slowly expanding his repertoire and becoming known as a tenor in his country, with different actions like that he starred in the famous Scala in Milan on December 7, 1954, where she opened the operatic season playing the role of Licino in La Vestale of Gaspare Spontini (1774-1851). On that occasion he shared stage with the famous diva María Callas (1923-1977), with which, time, would maintain a passionate love affair.

The best evidence that his name began to be familiar among critics, the public and the professionals of the operatic circuit was hiring in 1955, as a substitute for the famous tenor Mario del Monaco (1915-1982), to intervene in a montage of Aida announced at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. This Coliseum became the scene of his first successes as a tenor, as there he returned the following year with La fanciulla del West by Puccini (1858-1924), as a partner of the soprano Maria Caniglia; and, in 1958, with the forza del destino by Verdi (1813-1901), accompanying the divos Éttore Bastianiani (1922-1967) and Renata Tebaldi (1922)-.

A new success of the tenor of Ancona at the aforementioned Neapolitan Theatre took place in 1959, when he got into the skin of Maurizio, conte di Sassonia - character in the play Adriana Lecouvreur, Francesco Cilea (1866?)-- to accompany on the stage to other stars of bel canto as Magda Olivero, Giulietta Simionato (1910)- and the newly cited Bastianini.

By that second five years of the Decade of the sixties, Corelli had other successes in various Italian theatres, now sharing the stage with the Callas - in a montage of Il pirata by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), very applauded by critics and the public, ora putting in scene the Fedora by Umberto Giordano (1867-1948). In addition, this hard period of formation and consolidation, tenor of Ancona was expanding its records and managed to deal wisely diverse vocal styles, claimed by the different characters he played in Hercules and Giulio Cesar, of Georg Friedrich Haendel (1685-1759); in Iphigénie en Aulide by Gluck (1714-1787); and Agnes dei Hohenstaufen of Spontini (1774-1851).

But his definitive consecration as one of the great bel canto contemporary divos took place on September 7, 1960, when he returned to the Milan stage of la Scala to offer a Masterful interpretation of the Poliuto by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). From then on, his name began to sound with force in international opera circles, many of whom already claimed their presence.

That is how, at the beginning of 1961, Franco Corelli crossed the Atlantic to debut, on January 27, in the Metropolitan Opera House of New York, where she played the role of Manrico, Il from trovatore, Giuseppe Verdi (to whom is honor in the American city sixty years after his disappearance). In one memorable performance - also for fellow poster, the American soprano Leontyne Price (1927)--, Franco Corelli captivated completely to the public of the prestigious Metropolitan, where would be the most acclaimed male performer throughout the Decade of the sixties. There he offered other interpretations that have passed to the history of contemporary opera, as it starred in a month and a half later, getting into the skin of Calaf - Turandot, Puccini-character, under the orchestral direction of Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977), with scenery and decorations of the great British photographer Cecil Beaton (1904-1980).

After these triumphs at the New York opera theatre, Franco Corelli was ready to appear at any other stage of the world. Thus, in 1962, under the genial baton of Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989), offered to the public in Salzburg (Austria) another splendid version of Il trovatore; and shortly after he returned to his homeland to provide, at la Scala in Milan, a dazzling replacement of Les Huguenots, of Meyerbeer (1791-1864), which was a risky vocal virtuosity that pleasantly surprised friends and strangers, especially in the Duet, in the fourth Act, argued with his colleague Simionato.

He was, from then on, consecrated unanimously as the best tenor of the moment, especially given the sudden loss of vocal qualities that had experienced its major rivals, as Guiseppe di Stefano (1921-) and Mario de el Monaco. And, without a doubt, it was hailed as one of the great divos that, throughout the history of the operatic genre, had played with greater success the Italian repertoire, plot in which not made him shadow other tenors emerging, such as Carlo Bergonzi (1924-) and Richard Tucker.

However, this brilliant career began to stagnate in the Decade of the 1970s, when it was clear that Corelli, instead of assuming the risk of facing operas of the density of Otello, Verdi, Samson and Dalila, Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), or Il tabarro, Puccini - where the role of Luigi had given much of his undoubted genius -It had continued to increase his repertoire with roles more light, near lyricism Belcanto, as Rodolfo in La Bohème, Puccini, or Romeo in Romeo and Juliet by Charles Gounod (1818-1893). Purists of the operatic genre did not understand that a tenor as Corelli, equipped with a so vigorous voice, an enviable dense Center and baritone, a superb strength in the treble and volume out of series, not decide to tackle these works of greater difficulty, which no doubt would have left gracefully.

Moreover, their innate insecurity and its pathological nervous tension played you some tricks that ultimately would end up tilting the balance in favour of its detractors. Thus, betrayed by nerves, it was unable to move from the initial sessions of a project of recording of Aida, conducted by Von Karajan; and it could not conclude, in 1964, the recording of the forza del destino, by the same composer, which eventually was taken to the phonograph with the assistance of Richard Tucker instead of Corelli. Five years later, he again tackled this project, but could not move from the first session, and ended up giving way to Carlo Bergonzi. If all this were little, their recording of Faust, by Gounod, published in 1966, had earned you a considerable number of detractors, who afeaban him his poor mastery of French and, above all, having betrayed the French with a Faust too flimsy and earthly lyric (something which, on the other hand, was praised by advocates of Corelli).

In 1968, a new episode of stage fright prevented him from stepping on the tables of the Metropolitan Opera House, a circumstance which, incidentally, it led to the anticipated debut of Placido Domingo (1941-) to select New York public. From then on, his career was marked by sharp ups and downs, in which alternated memorable performances - as a brilliant role in Don Carlo by Verdi, which offered by Corelli in 1970, it is considered the high point of his career professional-with some notable failures - which include encrypt his first and only major defeat on a stage, which took place at the Vienna State Opera in 1972, when it was unable to succeed in the interpretation of Edgardo, the work Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti. Corelli recovered from this failure, shortly after, embroidering a Werther by Jules Massenet (1842-1912), work on which had which was praised even by like censored you with greater anger.

But his career had already entered clearly in its terminal phase, in which, during the years 1973, 1974 and 1975 greatly reduced performances. So things, Corelli announced his withdrawal for 1976, year in which only offered two performances, both in its traditional repertoire: La Bohème and Romeo et Juliette. Consecrated, thereafter, to teaching - activity that had the opportunity to train as outstanding as the blind tenor Andrea Bocelli - students, combining his singing lessons with its frequent appearance in various acts of homage that is paid to you; Thus, in 1996 they granted, in recognition of his entire career, the Bellini d'Oro Prize; and a year later was offered, in his honor, a homage concert in Vienna, where he took part some of the great opera of late 20th century figures.

Since 1998, the illustrious tenor of Ancona presides the jury of the international contest Franco Corelli, summoned by the Italian cultural authorities in homage to his brilliant musical career.