Carlo Bini

March 1937 Santa Maria Capua Vetere – August 2021 Pescia

Picture of Carlo Bini

Carlo Bini sings Lucia di Lammermoor: Fra poco a me ... Tu che a Dio, with Giancarlo Casarini
In RA format

Carlo Bini singsErnani: Come rugiada al cespite ... O tu che l'alma adora
In RA format

Carlo Bini singsMadama Butterfly: Cio-Cio-San! Che hai tu fatto alla missione?, with Alessandro Maddalena
In RA format

Carlo Bini singsMadama Butterfly: Addio, fiorito asil, with Attilio D'Orazi
In RA format

Carlo Bini singsRoberto Devereux: Bagnato il sen di lagrime
In RA format

Bini, born Carlo Bifone, studied at the S. Pietro di Majella conservatory in Naples and made his late debut, at the Teatro San Carlo, in 1969 as Pinkerton. His breakthrough came when he stepped in for Luciano Pavarotti in Macerata at very short notice (Bini was there because he wanted to attend the performance). He didn't sing very much in Italy, but always at first-rate theaters: other than the San Carlo, in Rome, Torino, Trieste, Palermo and at La Scala (debut: Tambourmajor, 1977).

The major part of his career was spent abroad: Germany (Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Deutsche Oper am Rhein), Brussels, Paris Opéra, Marseille, Rouen, Vienna Staatsoper (merely two performances), Rio de Janeiro, New York City Opera, Covent Garden, Santiago de Chile, and from 1978 to 1982, the Metropolitan Opera.

An excellent career, thus, and a totally incomprehensible one. He is reported to have been very successful in Germany, but particularly in the USA, few singers in history have aroused such outrage, even disgust as Carlo Bini. His Met tenure ended in a riot on 13 October 1982: Plácido Domingo had to bow out after act 1 of La Gioconda, Bini stepped in, sang Cielo e mar, and the Met audience (not typically known to be overly demanding) almost took the theater apart. Bini wanted to escape, his stage partners Eva Marton and Mignon Dunn grabbed him and forced him to stay... even 15 years later, someone who had been in the theater on that evening vividly remembered, on Google Groups, "Bini's terribly funny Enzo at the Met in 1982. (...) It nearly bet the Marx Brothers, and it was live, too." Bini saved two more performances of that 1982 Gioconda series, and that was it with his career at the Met.

Already prior to that, his Met appearances earned him bad newspaper reviews: Bini "was a stiff actor and too often sang with a hollow, nasal tone" (Newsday, Luisa Miller 1978); as Turiddu (1980), his acting was called exciting by the Port Chester Item, but: "Carlo Bini sang a rather throaty Turiddu. His voice is tightly produced causing some of the natural volume to be cut short and remain onstage, never passing the footlights." And they didn't even mention his wobble...

Three years after the Met Gioconda desaster, in 1985, Bini sang Ernani in Dallas; conductor Nicola Rescigno is credited with telling Bini, already during the rehearsals, that "your singing gives us all a headache"; 12 years later, on the above-mentioned Google Groups thread, someone who had sung in the chorus on that occasion wrote that Bini "screamed his way through Ernani" and called it the "worst professional singing that can be imagined"; a visitor of that production chimed in saying "I recall Signor Bini with shudders".

Bini continued singing in public until 2005.

Reference 1: archives of the Metropolitan Opera, reference 2: Kutsch & Riemens, reference 3, reference 4, reference 5

I wish to thank Georges Cardol for the recordings (Madama Butterfly).
I wish to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recordings (Roberto Devereux, Ernani).

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