Franco Corelli

Franco Corelli (8 April 1921 – 29 October 2003) was an Italian tenor active in opera from 1951 to 1976. Associated in particular with the big "spinto" and dramatic tenor roles of the Italian repertory, he was celebrated internationally for his handsome stage presence and thrilling upper register.

Corelli was born in Ancona, the son of a ship worker. He originally studied for a degree in marine engineering, then took lessons briefly with Rita Pavoni at the Pesaro Conservatory of Music. He was, however, largely self-taught, although he did later seek advice from a great tenor of a previous generation, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi.

In 1950, Corelli won the Maggio Musicale in Florence, earning a debut at the Spoleto Music Festival the following year, as Don José in "Carmen". Also in 1951, he made his debut at the Rome Opera as Manrico in "Il trovatore". During the next few years, he sang mostly in smaller opera houses throughout Italy and on Italian radio.

He reached La Scala in Milan in 1954, as Licinio in Spontini's "La vestale", opposite soprano Maria Callas, whom he would later partner in "Fedora", "Il pirata" and "Poliuto". Other important debuts ensued, including his first appearances at: the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence and the Verona Arena in 1955; the Vienna State Opera, as Radames, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London, as Cavaradossi, in 1957; the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the San Francisco Opera in 1958; and the Berlin State Opera in 1961.

Corelli made his debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera on 27 January 1961 as Manrico in "Il trovatore," opposite another debutante, soprano Leontyne Price. He would sing to great acclaim at the Met until 1974 in roles such as Calaf (with Birgit Nilsson as Turandot), Cavaradossi, Maurizio, Ernani, Rodolfo and Edgardo. He also undertook French parts in new productions of "Roméo et Juliette" and "Werther".

He returned to La Scala in 1962, for a revival of Meyerbeer's "Les Huguenots", opposite Joan Sutherland, and made his belated debut at the Paris Opera in 1970.

With a rich and ringing dramatic tenor voice and movie-star good looks, Corelli won a wide public following, despite complaints from some critics about what they perceived as self-indulgence of phrasing and expression. He left many recordings of solo arias and complete operas. These reveal the splendour of Corelli's voice in its prime during the late 1950s and 1960s. Many admirers prefer recordings of his live performances, finding Corelli's singing in front of an audience far more exciting than his studio performances. Fortunately, many of these are available. No subsequent tenor active in the field of Italian or French opera has equaled him for sheer vocal excitement or glamor. Corelli retired from the stage in 1976 at the age of 55. By this date, his voice was showing evident signs of wear and tear after years of hard use in a demanding repertory. He died in Milan in 2003, aged 82, having suffered a stroke earlier that year. He was buried in Milan's Cimitero Monumentale.

He was married to soprano Loretta Di Lelio.

elected recordings


* "The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia", edited by David Hamilton, (Simon and Schuster, 1987) ISBN 0-671-61732-X

* "The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera", edited by Paul Gruber, (W.W. Norton & Company, 1993) ISBN 0-393-03444-5

External links


[ Associazione in onore di Franco Corelli]

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