Friday, May 24, 2013

Gianni Schicchi Diary pt. 2a Giuseppe de Luca

Giacomo Puccini (1856-1924)
You can go to all the language labs you want, take all the classes there are, spend your money, but if you're a singer wanting to learn beautiful Italian, go to the library and get recordings of Italian singers. Nothing is more beautiful than listening to Pavarotti sing Donizetti and Verdi. Tebaldi in anything. The great baritones Tito Gobbi and Ettore Bastianini.Bass Cesare Siepi.  Renata Scotto in Lucia or Traviata. Scotto was the diva of my operatic youth. You couldn't avoid her, and her voice was long shot. And yes, they'd flock to her today. Just a few lines of Mi chiamano Mimi were riveting.

Why do I harp on this? I don't like young singers being bilked for money. I've never been sold on the
Giuseppe de Luca
college/grad school route. Better to get a marketable degree and study voice, languages and theory on the side. Then try for the competitions and young artist's programs. If after several years nothing happens, start your own preforming organizations, conduct a choir for underprivileged kids and go make yourself a life in music. Tend bar or do IT during the day. No disgrace in any of these. The goal is to have a life in music and share that life with others.

Wow. Focus Christopher.

Giuseppe de Luca. He was the first Gianni Schicchi. You can lean so much about words and legato from him.

Giuseppe de Luca (1876-1940) sang well into his seventies. He came to the States in 1915 and three years later was the first Gianni Schicchi. He had created Sharpless in Madama Butterfly in 1907 and Michonnet in Adriana Lecouvreur in 1901, the latter with Caruso who he frequently partnered.

I'm not surprised to read raves about his singing in 1918, 1930, etc.
But in 1940 he made a comeback at the age of sixty-four.
He sang Germont in La traviata.

Giuseppe de Luca, the veteran baritone...stepped from the wings in the second act. It is not surprising that on receiving the thunderous tribute from the audience, it was hard for Mr. de Luca to control his features or summon the breath to sing. ...When he did open his mouth the first five notes made the pulses beat because of the art and the beauty of the song...The quality of the legato, the perfection of the style, the sentiment which ennobled the melodic phrase, struck the whole audience...

       Olin Downes, New York Times February 8 1940

(They really had critics then,didn't they? Olin Downes was no pushover)
de Luca sang Schicchi twenty -six times from the premiere in 1918 through 1934.  De Luca returned to Italy the following year and came back to New York in 1940. (I'm surprised Mussolini allowed him to leave)
Geraldine Farrar as Suor Angelica...unimpressed
By the way, Il tabarro disappeared after 1920 until 1946. Suor Angelica did not impress soprano Geraldine Farrar, who created the role. She and Caruso were the Met's biggest box office attraction. After she retired in 1922, Suor Angelica disappeared until Renata Scotto sang it in 1975.

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