Giacomo Lauri-Volpi

11 December 1892 Lanuvio – 17 March 1979 Valencia

Film ad for the German version of La canzone del sole

Picture of Giacomo Lauri-Volpi's broadside Vichy 1938

Picture of Giacomo Lauri-Volpi

Born Giacomo Volpi, he studied in Rome: first law, then singing, notably with Antonio Cotogni. After fighting World War I, he added further studies with Enrico Rosati in Milano before making his debut in 1919 as Arturo (Puritani) in Viterbo. He called himself Giacomo Rubini, since he didn't want to be mixed up with Guido Volpi (a few years his senior and hence already established on Italian stages). Soon after, he changed his stage name to what we're used to, Lauri-Volpi, and made several debuts at important Italian, Spanish and Argentinian theaters until 1922 (Teatro Costanzi, 1920; Colón in Buenos Aires as well as La Scala, 1922). La Scala was to be one of the centers of his career (until 1947), he was back to the Colón 1927, 1928, and on a regular basis from 1932 to 1939, he sang at the Met (1923–33, 307 performances), the Paris Opéra, Covent Garden, Théâtre de la Monnaie, Monte Carlo, Vienna Staatsoper, Chicago, San Francisco, Arena di Verona, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino... you name it. He officially retired in 1959, but sang in fact until 1965 on stage, until 1972 in concert and until 1974 on record.

Personally, he was hardly very likeable, difficult to work with, and positively belligerent (he was in eternal conflict with the audience of La Scala as well as with his own parents, and he left the Met in dispute with the management). But at the same time, he was smart and a capable author; he wrote several books, notably Voci parallele, a critical evaluation of the singing of a great many singers, eventually (in the updated 1977 edition) ranging from Maria Malibran to José Carreras.

Reference 1: Kutsch & Riemens, reference 2, reference 3

Picture of Giacomo Lauri-Volpi

Picture of Giacomo Lauri-Volpi

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi singsIl trovatore: Di quella pira

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi singsTurandot: Nessun dorma
A good example that recordings made by old singers should only be seen rather than heard.
In RA format

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi:Radio interview on vocal technique, with singing demonstration towards the end
In RA format

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi singsI puritani: A te, o cara
In RA format

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi singsLa favorite: Una vergine, un angel di Dio
In RA format

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi sings Norma: Meco all'altar di Venere
In RA format

More Lauri-Volpi at Opera at the San Carlo and Les introuvables du chant verdien, by Daniele Godor

Many thanks to Anton Bieber for the film ad.
I wish to thank Claude Ribou for the broadside (Vichy 1938).
The Turandot recording was provided by Jacques Franken.
I wish to thank Terence Doleschal for the recording (Puritani).
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recording (Norma) and picture (top).
I wish to thank Roberto Falcone for the picture (bottom).

I puritani – Viterbo 1919
Rigoletto – Viterbo 1919
Manon – Roma, 1920
Gianni Schicchi – Roma 1920
Il barbiere di Siviglia – Roma 1920
Isabella Orsini – Rio de Janeiro 1920
La bohème – Madrid 1921
Tosca – Madrid 1921
Faust – Valladolid 1921
La favorita – Madrid 1922
Madama Butterfly – Montecarlo 1922
La traviata – Buenos Aires 1922
Cavalleria rusticana – Rio de Janeiro 1922
Don Casmurro – Rio de Janeiro 1922
Anima allegra – New York 1923
Lucia di Lammermoor – Chicago 1923
Andrea Chénier – Chicago 1923
Il re di Lahore – New York 1924
Carmen – Chicago 1924
Marta – Chicago 1924
L'elisir d'amore – Chicago 1924
Fra Diavolo – Chicago 1924
Aida – Chicago 1924
Giovanni Gallurese – New York 1925
La Gioconda – Atlanta 1925
Mefistofele – Atlanta 1925
L'africana – Cleveland 1925
Manon Lescaut – Torino 1925
Turandot – Buenos Aires 1926
La Wally – Rio de Janeiro 1926
La vestale – New York 1926
Norma – Buenos Aires 1927
Il trovatore – Buenos Aires 1927
Nerone (Boito) – Roma 1928
Pagliacci – Buenos Aires 1928
Luisa Miller – New York 1929
Guglielmo Tell – Milano 1930
La sonnambula – New York 1933
Gli ugonotti – Verona 1933
La cena delle beffe – Roma 1934
Un ballo in maschera – Firenze 1935
Werther – Paris 1935
La fanciulla del West – Paris 1935
Otello – Milano 1942
La forza del destino – Montreux 1952
Poliuto – Roma 1955
Reference: Lauri-Volpi A viso aperto, Bongiovanni 1983.
Maurizio Tiberi: Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, un tenore dall'800, Edizioni del TIMAclub, 2012

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