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".)
Un ballo in maschera
La fanciulla del West
La fille du régiment
La forza del destino
Lucia di Lammermoor
Richard Cœur de Lion
Samson et Dalila
La vida breve
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.
Voce favolosa e poderoso tenore.
Voce bellissima e esemplare, nata per grandi traguardi.
Quant au ténor Carlino, voilà une superbe voix italienne, chaude, épanouie et éclatante, au timbre juste et passionné.
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.
Voce folgorante e bella.
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.
I wish to thank Tonino Carlino for the press reviews, repertory, recordings and pictures.