Emilio de Marchi

Emilio De Marchi (January 6, 1861, VogheraMarch 20, 1917, Milan) was a prominent Italian operatic tenor during the late 19th century and early 20th century. In 1900, he entered musical history as the creator of the role of Cavaradossi in Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca".

De Marchi's voice was discovered during military service. In 1886, He made his operatic debut in Milan, at the Teatro Dal Verme, as Alfredo in Verdi's "La traviata". Over the next few years he appeared at leading houses throughout Italy and Spain and was the member of a distinguished Italian operatic company which visited Buenos Aires in 1890.

De Marchi made his debut at La Scala, Milan, in 1898 as Stolzing. He was then chosen by Puccini to sing the coveted role of Cavaradossi in the first performance of "Tosca", which occurred at Rome's Teatro Costanzi on January 14, 1900. (A rising young tenor star named Enrico Caruso had hoped to create Cavaradossi; but in the end, Puccini, although greatly impressed by Caruso's voice, decided to award the part to the more established singer.) De Marchi sang Cavaradossi again at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1901. Cavaradossi was also his debut role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City the following year. While at the Met, he sang in the premiere performance there of Verdi's "Ernani" in 1903. His other Met roles included: Radames, Alfredo, Rodolfo, Riccardo, Turiddu, Canio and Don Jose.

He returned to Italy and, among other roles, sang Max in "Der Freischütz" and Licinius in "La Vestale" during his last seasons at La Scala. Milan was the scene of his death at the age of 56.

De Marchi made no commercial recordings but he can be heard in a few fragments from "Tosca" that were recorded during a live performance at the Met in January 1903 with Emma Eames and Antonio Scotti as Tosca and Scarpia respectively. Despite the primitive quality of these Mapleson Cylinders, De Marchi's voice sounds strong and attractive, and it rings out impressively in the opera's Torture Scene.

The "Tosca" fragments have been re-issued on CD by Symposium Records (catalogue number 1284).


* "Grove Music Online", J.B. Steane (June 2008}
* "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera", Second Edition, Harold Rosenthal & John Warrack (London, 1980)
* "The Great Caruso", Michael Scott (London, 1988)

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