Greek tenor. Cristiano (Cristy or Christy was his artistic name) Solari was born in Smyrna (present İzmir), Ottoman
Empire, on 28 October 1894. In Greek, he was called Christos Solaris. His father was a Levantine and his mother was Greek. The
term Levantine means an exponent of the great number of Genoese and Venetian Italians that in those years lived in Smyrna and
other cities of Asia Minor. After the Turkish-Greek War (1919–1922), all the Greek and Levantine population was forced to
leave Smyrna for Greece, Egypt or Italy.
Cristy Solari studied singing in Milano with Serafino Di Falco and made his debut in late 1914 at the Teatro Sociale in Mantova,
as Arturo in I puritani. Some time after, in January or February 1915, he sang the role of the Duke in Rigoletto
at the Teatro alla Scala, in Milano, taking over the role from the Spanish tenor Hipólito Lázaro who had sung several performances before.
In 1916 he performed Rigoletto and La favorite at the Teatro Chiarella in Torino, and the following year again
Rigoletto at the Teatro Regio in Parma. He was singing in Parma when he was called to the Italian army and participated
in the First World War. He returned wounded in 1919.
There are no news about his artistic activities until 1924 when he appears singing Manon at the Teatro Chiarella, and in
January 1925 Rigoletto at the Teatro Regio in Parma and at the Teatro Bellini in Catania. That year he sang the role of
Arlecchino at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, in Le furie d'Arlecchino by Adriano Lualdi.
From October to December 1926, he was singing in several cities in Holland, with Margherita Salvi, in Rigoletto and
Il barbiere di Siviglia, and La bohème and La traviata with Adelaide Saraceni.
During the 1927 season he performed Lucia di Lammermoor and Madama Butterfly at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova,
sang in Lisbon Manon and Rigoletto, and participated as a member of the Italian Opera Company in a long tour
singing in Holland, Bucharest, Zagreb, Sofia, Cairo as well as in several German cities. The operas included Rigoletto,
Traviata and Il barbiere di Siviglia.
The following year (1928), he sang Mignon at the Teatro Grande in Brescia as well as Rigoletto at the Teatro
Comunale in Forlì , the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele in Torino and the Teatro Reinach in Parma.
In 1929, he travelled to South America and sang Il barbiere di Siviglia and the role of Colombello in the South American
premiere of Il re (by Giordano) at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In Montevideo, Uruguay, he sang one
performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia. Back in Europe he sang L'amico Fritz at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa and
Mignon at the Pergola, in Florence. There are press news informing that the entrepreneur Norbert Salter "has engaged him
for eight performances" at the New York Grand Opera Company (1929). However, I have not been able to find any supporting
evidence for it.
In 1930, he sang Mignon at the Teatro Regio in Parma and in February the role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi at
the Teatro Regio in Torino, sharing the role with Aureliano Pertile. In April and May, he visited Portugal for the second time
and sang in Lisbon Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Madama Butterfly, Manon and
Also in 1930, he sang Madama Butterfly at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, and in December visited Spain for the first
time to sing Manon at the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. In 1931 he created, in San Remo at the Teatro del Casinò,
the role of Il principe Cristiano in the new opera L'ultimo lord by Franco Alfano, traveled again to Austria but now
to the Stadttheater in Salzburg, singing the role of Paolino in Il matrimonio segreto by Cimarosa, and then returned to
Venice to sing Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro La Fenice. During the seasons 1931 and 1932, he repeated his roles
in Manon (sharing with Alexander Vesselovsky) and Il
barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, and sang in 1933 again the role of Almaviva at the Teatro Carlo Felice
in Genova. In December 1934, he sang for the second time in Spain, in Barcelona, Il barbiere di Siviglia with the
Catalonian soprano Mercedes Capsir, and Il matrimonio segreto. In 1935, he sang Elvino in La sonnambula in Brescia
and Bolzano with Toti Dal Monte as Amina.
In 1936, he sang Mignon at the Teatro Carlo Felice and then at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo. In April 1937, he sang
the role of Filippo Malì in the new opera Madonna Imperia by Franco Alfano, at La Scala in Milan (sharing the role
with Bruno Landi) and then, in November, he sang in Holland, Les
pêcheurs de perles. In June, he sang Lucia di Lammermoor with Toti Dal Monte in Zürich. In 1938, he sang
Ernesto in Don Pasquale at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, and in February he was at La Scala in Milano singing the role of
Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles by Bizet, the role of L'innamorato in Il gobbo del Califfo by Franco
Casavola, and the role of Gelindo (sharing with Luigi Fort) in
L'impresario in angustie by Domenico Cimarosa. In September 1938, he sang again with Toti Dal Monte in Switzerland, now
in Bern and as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly.
In January 1939 he sang a new role in a new opera: L'amante in Amelia al ballo (Amelia goes to the ball) by Gian Carlo
Menotti at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, and then he sang the role of Le Bleau in La vedova scaltra by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
at the Teatro Grande in Brescia and made a successful concert tour to Belgium and Holland. In 1940, he returned to Brescia to
sing in Manon.
He sang very little after the Second World War and he ended his career in 1947 singing La vedova scaltra at the Teatro
La Fenice in Venice.
Cristy Solari died in Rome on 26 October 1974, two days short of his 80th birthday.
Solari recorded exclusively for Columbia in Italy. He left examples from his lyric tenor repertoire, as well as highlights
from La favorite, L'elisir d'amore and Don Pasquale. Under the ficticious name of Franco Lary, he recorded
more than 50 popular songs of the time, including film songs, tangos and the so-called "patriotic" songs of the fascist regime.
I have been told that he also recorded some Greek songs, but so far I have not found evidence of them.
Solari belonged to what was then referred as "tenore di grazia", in a generation led by Tito Schipa and then Dino Borgioli,
and comprising Roberto D'Alessio, Enzo De Muro Lomanto, Giovanni Manurita, Bruno Landi, Nino Ederle, Luigi Fort, Aldo Sinnone,
Franco Perulli, Piero Menescaldi, Emilio Renzi. To those Italians we must add the Russian Alexander Vesselovsky, the Portuguese
Tomaz Alcaide, the Australian Lionel Cecil (Cecil Sherwood) and the Spaniards Emili Vendrell, Tino Folgar and Juan García.
It was a style of singing quite different from what followed in the fifties by Luigi Infantino, Agostino Lazzari, Cesare
Valletti, Ugo Benelli, Nicola Monti and Luis Alva, or more recently by the "Rossinians" like Ricardo Giménez, Rockwell
Blake and Juan Diego Flórez. Cristy Solari was able to hold his own against such names. His voice was full-bodied and
capable of fine nuances. In short, he knew "sfumare i suoni", "fraseggiare" and "interpretare". A great artist, indeed.
Juan Dzazópulos, January 2008