Tonino Carlino

7 October 1933 Casarano – 3 June 2021 Jette

Picture of Tonino Carlino

Tonino Carlino singsIl trovatore: Di quella pira
In RA format

Tonino Carlino singsTurandot: Nessun dorma
In RA format

Picture of Tonino Carlino

At the time Tonino Carlino jazzed up his biography, there was no internet, and it was even more difficult than today to check the stories that he used to tell about his career; meanwhile, it's at least possible to know for sure that he was very, ahem, creative in configuring his own past. According to Carlino, he studied voice with Tito Schipa and Ettore Campogalliani, and made his debut at age 24. His first Manrico came at age 26, his first Calaf one year later. Other than being a member of the Royal Opera in Antwerp, he sang at the Vienna Staatsoper, at Covent Garden and at the Met, by his own proud accounts. He helped start the career of his friend Luciano Pavarotti, he was close with Callas, he sang Di quella pira a half-note up, hence on C sharp instead of C, he sang operas like Aida and Nabucco in Dutch and was, even though he didn't understand a word of Dutch, more comprehensible than the native Dutch speakers; and not least he was, still at age 73, the only living tenor capable of singing beyond the high C... feat after feat! (I'm not known to be a fan of Rockwell Blake, but he certainly did sing well beyond the high C, and he was very much alive in 2007. Whether Carlino had ever heard his name? Never mind, because anyway: "The new generation is worth nothing".)

Today, it's easy enough to ascertain that Carlino never sang at the Vienna Staatsoper, and that he never sang at the Met. He was a member of the Antwerp opera for a couple of years (it seems for seven seasons, and it seems from 1962), and he had lived in Belgium already since the 1950s. Nonetheless, he never sang at La Monnaie, but he was Radames at the Forest National, a huge multipurpose hall in Forest near Brussels, in 1995. It seems credible that at some point, he may have studied with Tito Schipa, one because Schipa, the great tenor, was certainly no great teacher, and two because Schipa was obviously the only human being of whom Carlino spoke with deep respect. It also seems credible that Carlino sang Pinkerton in Lecce in 1973 ("the greatest emotion of my life", because Lecce is the home town of Tito Schipa). I have no possibility to verify his appearances in East Berlin (Manrico) and Hamburg (Andrea Chénier). There is actually a photo of Carlino with young Luciano Pavarotti, and one with aging Renata Tebaldi. None with Callas, it would seem. His recording of Di quella pira is on C, not on C sharp.

In the light of all that, take the below repertory, and above all the below testimonials, with a grain of salt: they were sent to François Nouvion, the founder of Historical Tenors, by Tonino Carlino himself.

Reference 1; reference 2: La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, 16 June 2013; reference 3: La Dernière Heure/Les Sports, 18 December 2001 and 2 March 2007


Adriana Lecouvreur
Andrea Chénier
Un ballo in maschera
La bohème
Cavalleria rusticana
Don Carlo
La fanciulla del West
La fille du régiment
La forza del destino
La Gioconda
Lucia di Lammermoor
Madama Butterfly
Manon Lescaut
Richard Cœur de Lion
Samson et Dalila
Il tabarro
Il trovatore
La vida breve

Picture of Tonino Carlino


Mais où reste le ténor, la voix? Disons tout de suite que la voix longue, homogène, a un aigu somptueux, sensationnel même, et le chanteur en fournit d'emblée la preuve avec La donna è mobile, l'extrait bien connu du Rigoletto, de Verdi, Tonino Carlino s'y permet, dans la vocalise finale, un ut dièse, qu'il tient sans crainte.
Très peu de ténors risquent ainsi cette cadence et nous n'avons connu au théâtre que le célèbre Giacomo Lauri-Volpi et aussi Mario Filippeschi. Dans ses enregistrements, Jussi Björling, le ténor suédois, donnait aussi l'ut dièse... La face numéro 1 contient encore Nessun dorma de Turandot, O paradiso de L'Africaine, Di quella pira du Trovatore, tous airs au contre-ut redoutable, mais notre ténor n'en a curre!

La dernière heure

Voce favolosa e poderoso tenore.

Mario Del Monaco

Voce bellissima e esemplare, nata per grandi traguardi.

Ettore Campogalliani

Quant au ténor Carlino, voilà une superbe voix italienne, chaude, épanouie et éclatante, au timbre juste et passionné.

La vie culturelle, Bruxelles

La grandiosa ricchezza dei mezzi vocali, di intensa e armoniosa risonanza nel corpo di una gamma di ampia estensione, il brunito ardore del fraseggio, l'istintiva, infuocata passionalità del temperamento lo indicavano come elemento degno della massima attenzione.

Corriere internazionale del teatro

Voce folgorante e bella.

Tito Schipa

Perché non canta in Italia? Ho ammirato la sua voce che mi sembra eccellente. Perché non canta in Italia? Non ci sono, oggi, tenori del suo timbro.

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi

I wish to thank Tonino Carlino for the press reviews, repertory, recordings and pictures.

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