Cristy Solari

28 October 1894 Smyrna/İzmir – 26 October 1974 Rome

Picture of Cristy Solari

Cristy Solari singsI puritani: A te, o cara
In RA format

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 Rigoletto.

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

Columbia B1492 Mignon: Addio, Mignon D5697 B1494 Martha: M'apparì D5698 B1499 L'elisir d'amore: Una furtiva lagrima D5699 B1501 I puritani: A te, o cara D5699, 21780 B1508 Don Pasquale: Cerchero lontana terra D5698 B1509 Il barbiere di Siviglia: Se il mio nome D5700, D57100, 21780 B1524 Mignon: Ah non credevi tu D5697 B1525 Lucia di Lammermoor: Tu che a Dio D5700 B2871 Werther: Ah non mi ridestar D11551 B2873 I puritani: Credeasi, misera D11551 BX944 L'elisir d'amore: Chiedi all'aura (w. Alfani-Tellini) GQX10094 B3694 Luisa Miller: Quando le sere CQ352 B3695 Lucrezia Borgia: Di pescatore ignobile CQ352 B3696 Linda di Chamounix: Se tanto in ira agli uomini CQ370, DQ232 B6131 Leise flehen meine Lieder (Schubert) (in Italian) DQ1289 B6397 Ave Maria (Schubert) (in Italian) DQ1289 Columbia, abridged recordings of operas Don Pasquale with Alfani-Tellini, Conati, Giuliani and Molajoli, GQX10100–105 L'elisir d'amore with Alfani-Tellini, Conati, Faticanti, Mannarini and Molajoli, GQX10093–98 La favorita with Zinetti, Maugeri, Zambelli, Mannarini, Nessi and Molajoli, GQX10064–68 well over 50 songs, most of them recorded under the name Franco Lary
Sources for the discography: Roberto Marcocci, Juan Dzazópulos and Gesellschaft für historische Tonträger, Wien

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