Mario Armandi

Nothing at all is known about Armandi's personal life. His career was a mixed bag of main and comprimario parts, and while he clearly sang more leading roles (see Roberto Marcocci's below chronology, which is however not complete), he was probably more successful as a comprimario: above all as Edmondo and Lampionaio in Manon Lescaut, and as Abate in Adriana Lecouvreur, he is to be found in the annals of many an important theater. He created Edmondo/Lampionaio for the Teatre del Liceu (8 April 1896), and Abate for the Teatro della Pergola in Florence (18 April 1903), for the Teatro Comunale in Bologna (20 May 1903) as well as for the Teatro Costanzi in Rome (18 February 1905). His stand at the Bolshoj in Moscow in 1897 was as a comprimario, as well, and so were his Scala appearances – not only in December 1896 in Guglielmo Ratcliff (see chronology), but already two-and-a-half years prior to that, I don't know in which opera, but he caused a riot: being scheduled as the evening's secondary tenor, he was nowhere to be found, La Scala started the performance, obviously hoping he would surface in time for his appearance – in vain, he did not show up, and the performance had to be cancelled halfway through act 1, the audience got their money back and was nonetheless furious.

There's another, far less reliable anecdote about Armandi: he is said to have once stepped in as Pollione in Naples (at an unspecified theater), and was scheduled for the remaining six performances. The audience thought him to be inadequate (which no doubt he was, as Pollione), and hissed and shouted the entire first act, making him completely inaudible. At the end of the intermission, he stepped before the curtain, and asked for a deal: if the audience would let him sing for the rest of the evening, he would depart Naples after this performance; but if they'd continue to disturb him, he would fulfill his contract for all six performances. The audience agreed, and listened to him; and in the end liked him well enough to demand that he stay and sing the upcoming performances, as well. (I take this anecdote with a grain of salt since the – modern – source is really far from reliable; but on the other hand, it's beyond imagination that its author has ever heard of, or any idea about Mario Armandi, so he must have read something, somewhere that he grossly amplified to what I have tried to reduce again in my recount. So at least some "real" Armandi would seem to be at the core of that anecdote.)

Anyway, there's little doubt that Armandi spent most of his time in main roles at smaller theaters; whether he ever ventured into Pollione I cannot swear, but he did sing Canio (see chronology), which is certainly surprising enough. Because his only recording reveals remarkable musicality and an excellently trained voice, but definitely a tenore di grazia. The recording is a real pleasure to listen to, however!

Reference 1: Goudsche Courant, 31 March 1894; reference 2; reference 3: Gerard Guerra i Ribó, La recepció de "Manon Lescaut" de Giacomo Puccini a Barcelona (1896), Barcelona 2015; reference 4; reference 5: Ethan Mordden, Opera anecdotes, New York/Oxford 1985, p. 218-19

Mario Armandi singsManon Lescaut: E Katè rispose al re
Many thanks to Armin Mairhofer for the really rare recording!

04/06 Trento Politeama delle Varietà FRA DIAVOLO (Fra Diavolo) / BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Almaviva) / TRAVIATA (Alfredo) / ELISIR D'AMORE (Nemorino)
06 Verona Teatro Ristori FAVORITA (Fernando)
10 Busto Arsizio Teatro Sociale FAVORITA (Fernando)
01 Ferrara Teatro Comunale PAGLIACCI (Peppe)
07 Novellara Teatro Sociale PAPÀ MARTIN di A. Cagnoni (Armando)
07 Verona Teatro Ristori FAVORITA (Fernando)
10 Desenzano sul Garda Teatro Alberti FAUST (Faust)
12 Torino Teatro Regio FALSTAFF (Fenton)
01/02 Palermo Politeama IL PICCOLO HAYDN di G. Cipollini (Maestro Porpora) / LA MARTYRE di S. Samara (Baciacieli)
02 Milano Teatro La Scala GUGLIELMO RATCLIFF (Leslie)
03 Mosca Teatro Imperiale ANDREA CHÉNIER (Incredibile) / PROFETA  (Jonas) / ROMEO et JULIETTE (Tebaldo)
04 Bologna Teatro Duse ELISIR D'AMORE (Nemorino)
04 Piacenza Politeama DON PASQUALE (Ernesto) / ELISIR D'AMORE (Nemorino) / FRA DIAVOLO (Fra Diavolo)
08 Genova Teatro Alcazar ELISIR D'AMORE (Nemorino) / FRA DIAVOLO (Fra Diavolo) / LE EDUCANDE DI SORRENTO di E. Usiglio (Rodolfo)
10 Milano Teatro Lirico PAGLIACCI (Canio)
01 Milano Teatro Lirico BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Almaviva)
09 Carignano Politeama Alfieri FRA DIAVOLO (Fra Diavolo)
10 Soresina Teatro Sociale BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Almaviva) / FRA DIAVOLO (Fra Diavolo)
  Siena Teatro Della Lizza AMICO FRITZ (Fritz)
01 Cremona Politeama Verdi BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Almaviva) / PAPÀ MARTIN (Armando) / DON PASQUALE (Ernesto) / CRISPINO E LA COMARE (Contino) / ELISIR D'AMORE (Nemorino) / PAGLIACCI (Canio)
03 La Spezia Politeama Duca di Genova PAPÀ MARTIN di A. Cagnoni (Armando)
06/08 Bologna Arena Azeglio DON PASQUALE (Ernesto) / FRA DIAVOLO (Fra Diavolo) / PAGLIACCI (Canio)
01 Sanremo Teatro Principe Amedeo BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Almaviva) / DON PASQUALE (Ernesto)
02/03 Alessandria Politeama Grà FRA DIAVOLO (Fra Diavolo) / ELISIR D'AMORE (Nemorino)
05 Milano Teatro Manzoni ELISIR D'AMORE (Nemorino)
05 Bologna Teatro Comunale ADRIANA LECOUVREUR (Abate)
11 Asti Teatro Alfieri BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Almaviva)
03 Napoli Teatro San Carlo FAVORITA (Fernando)
03 Bologna Teatro Contavalli PAPÀ MARTIN di A. Cagnoni (Armando)
03 Novi Ligure Politeama Novese LINDA DI CHAMOUNIX (Visconte)
08 Livorno Teatro Goldoni LE MASCHERE (Brighella)
10 Monza Teatro Sociale ADRIANA LECOUVREUR (Abate)
01 Alessandria Teatro Verdi CONCERTO

7139 	MANON LESCAUT: E Katè (Sortita del Lampionaio)
Source for the chronology and discography the extraordinary website of Roberto Marcocci.

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