Pier Miranda-Ferraro


Picture of Pier Miranda-Ferraro

Pier Miranda-Ferraro singsOtello: Dio, mi potevi scagliar
In RA format

Pier Miranda-Ferraro singsGuglielmo Ratcliff: Ombra esecrata
In RA format

Pier Miranda-Ferraro singsIl pirata: Nel furor delle tempeste
In RA format

Pier Miranda Ferraro was born in Altivole (Treviso) on the 30th of October of 1924. His real name was Pietro Silvio Ferraro but he took his wife's name, Miranda, as part of his stage name.

He studied singing with Mirko Bonomi at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice and later with Aureliano Pertile at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan.

His debut took place in 1951 as Rodolfo in "La bohème" at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan. During the three following years he sang in several theatres in Italy. In 1953 he sang Cavaradossi to the "Tosca" of Renata Tebaldi at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia. In 1954 he was already singing at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.

In 1955 he sang in Spain for the first time. At the Coliseo Albia in Bilbao, he replaced Mario Del Monaco as Radames in "Aida". He sang later at the Teatro Victoria Eugenia in San Sebastián as Rodolfo in "La bohème". In October he sang in Monterrey (Mexico) in "Andrea Chénier" and "Il trovatore".

In March 1956, he made his debut in the U.S.A. at the New York City Center Opera singing "Tosca" and "Il trovatore".

In May and June 1956, he sang in South America and made his debut at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires as Pinkerton in "Madama Butterfly". He also was Radames in "Aida". From Argentina the company went to Brazil to sing in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo during August and September. Ferraro was heard as Radames and Cavaradossi.

In October 1956, he sang at the Teatro Marini, in Alessandria, "Tosca" with Chilean soprano Claudia Parada.

He sang in January 1957 at the Teatro Piccinni in Bari, "La forza del destino" and "Tosca" with Claudia Parada. In April he sang his first Russian opera, "Khovanscina" (sung in Italian) at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia, and in May he sang another Russian role in "Il principe Igor" by Borodin, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, with Boris Christoff. In September 1957, he sang Alvaro in "La forza del destino" for the RAI Roma with Anita Cerquetti.

Early in 1958 he undertook a new role, "Ernani", singing two performances at the Teatro Municipale in Piacenza, with Claudia Parada and Giuseppe Taddei.

On the 26 of February, 1958, another new role, Rodolfo in "Luisa Miller" at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. In March he sang "Aida" at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, with Mary Curtis Verna.

After singing at the Teatro Colón during July and August 1958 in "Madama Butterfly", "Aida" and "Carmen", he went to the San Francisco Opera to sing "Don Carlo" and "La forza del destino" in September.

He started the 1958/1959 season singing at the Municipale in Piacenza, "Aida" with Claudia Parada, Dora Minarchi and Franco Piva.

His debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan took also place in the 1958/1959 season. He sang three roles: Amenofis in Rossini's "Mosè" (he took the role over from Gianni Raimondi); Calaf in "Turandot" (after Giuseppe Di Stefano, Franco Corelli and João Gibin); and the title role in "Ernani" (after Franco Corelli).

On the 27 of January, 1959, he sang the role of Gualtiero in "Il pirata" with Maria Callas, a concert version in New York's Carnegie Hall. A second performance, with the same cast, took place at the Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., on January 29th.

In March 1959, he sang again at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, now in "Aida" and then the same opera at the Grand Théâtre in Monte Carlo.

From September 5 to 10 (1959) he recorded for EMI in Milan the role of Enzo in "La Gioconda" with Maria Callas and Piero Cappuccilli.

He sang in Santiago de Chile in September and October 1959: Alvaro in "La forza del destino", Don José in "Carmen" and Manrico in "Il trovatore".

Back in Italy a new role and a new theatre: Arrigo in "I vespri siciliani" at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, four performances from the 13 of November, 1959.

In March/April 1960, he sang "Aida" in Vienna and in Milan (La Scala), replacing Mario Del Monaco.

In May 1960, he sang for the RAI Napoli the role of "Il figlio" in the uncommon opera "La madre" by Donato Di Veroli, with the soprano Elena Todeschi as "The mother".

In June 1960 he was again Radames at the Vienna State Opera, and in July at the "Arena Flegrea" in Naples.

In September he visited Spain for the second time and sang at the Teatro Campoamor in Oviedo: "Ernani" and "Manon Lescaut"; and in December, he sang "Aida" and "Carmen" at the Liceo in Barcelona.

In March 1962, he sang at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa in "Tosca" with Antonietta Stella and Giangiacomo Guelfi. He sang "La forza del destino" in September at the Kursaal in Lugano, and in December 1962 another new role, Folco in Mascagni's "Isabeau" at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, with Marcella Pobbe (3 peformances).

In July 1963, he sang an "open air" performance of "Carmen" at the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, and on the 24 of July, 1963, in another "open air" performance the main role in Verdi's "Otello" (I think for the first time) at the Parco Marsaglia in San Remo.

On the 30 of July, 1963, he sang the title role in Mascagni's "Guglielmo Ratcliff" for the RAI Roma, and in October he sang in Switzerland, in Lausanne, "Il trovatore". In November he was in Treviso singing "Otello". He sang for the last time for the RAI Torino on the 25 of February, 1964, and for the first time in his career a Wagnerian role: "Rienzi".

The year 1965 started with more performances of "Otello" at the Teatro Municipale in Piacenza, and he was for the second time in Monte Carlo, now to sing Dick Johnson in "La fanciulla del West", with Antonietta Stella and Giangiacomo Guelfi. In July, he sang in the summer season of Teatro San Carlo in Naples.

In January 1966, he sang at the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania ("Don Carlo"), and then many performances of "Otello" in Brescia, Naples, Padua and Venice.

In 1967 he sang "La fanciulla del West" at the Teatro San Carlo di Napoli and "Otello" at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid.

On the 11 of September, 1968, Ferraro sang "Otello" at the Théâtre du Champs-Élysées in Paris.

In March 1969, he sang his second Wagnerian role, "Tannhäuser" at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. He was invited to sing again in South America, now in Brazil as a member of the San Carlo Opera Company. He sang the role of Ismaele in "Nabucco" with Giangiacomo Guelfi in the title role. There was one performance at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and one performance at the Teatro Municipal in São Paulo.

In December 1970, he sang the role of Samson in "Sansone e Dalila" at the Teatro San Carlo, sharing the five performances with Mario Del Monaco.

During his last years as a singer, he won a certain reputation as "Otello" (some sources mention that it was a role that he sang 300 times, but I have my doubts about it... considering that Vinay sang it only 246 times and Del Monaco only 218 times....). He sang the role in 1970 at the Teatro Romano in Benevento and at the Castello di Lombardia in Enna. He sang only once at the Royal Opera House London, on Monday, 10th May 1971, the role of Otello. He was not originally cast in this role. He replaced James McCracken, who was said to be indisposed on that night.

The cast for "Otello" in London was as follows:
MONTANO, former governor of Cyprus – George Macpherson
CASSIO, captain under Otello – David Hughes
IAGO, ensign or ancient under Otello – Peter Glossop
RODERIGO, a Venetian gentleman – John Dobson
OTELLO, moor of Venice, governor of Cyprus – Pier Miranda-Ferraro (instead of James McCracken)
DESDEMONA, his bride – Gwyneth Jones
EMILIA, her companion and Iago's wife – Elizabeth Bainbridge
A HERALD – Glynne Thomas
LODOVICO, ambassador of Venice – Gwynne Howell

In 1972 he sang it at the Teatro Masini in Faenza (Revenna), and in June 1972 he was invited to sing it in Teheran (Iran). The same year, he sang for the last time at La Scala. In 1973 he sang "Otello" in Budapest. In the '70s he sang the role in Philadelphia, Hartford and Newark.

In May 1974, he visited Spain for the last time and sang "Otello" in Valencia, and in October 1975 at The Hague in Holland.

Pier Miranda Ferraro, in the last part of his career, still added two new roles to his repertoire. In 1970 he sang the role of Erik in Wagner's "The flying dutchman" in Catania, and in 1977 in Naples "La visita della vecchia signora" by von Einem (Der Besuch der alten Dame).

Ferraro sang also in London, Brussels and Liège, though I have been unable to find the details of his performances.

Ferraro's farewell to stage was as Otello, in Lecco, in 1981.

After retiring from the stage, he was professor of singing at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan for 15 years. He won a good reputation as a reliable teacher of singing. Afterwards he taught at the Accademia Viotti in Vercelli; at the Laboratorio Lirico Internazionale di Zogno; at the Accademia Internazionale Katia Ricciarelli in Parma, and was invited to give master classes, from Milan to Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing. In 1985 he started a managing agency for young singers and opera professionals. This company was later co-run by his daughter Beatrice Ferraro.

In 2003 he was distinguished with the "Giuseppe Lugo Prize" as one of the greatest tenors of the twentieth century.

Pier Miranda Ferraro died of a cardial arrest in his sleep, at his home in Milan, on the 18th of January, 2008. He was 83 years old. He was survived by his wife, four children and 16 grandchildren.


La bohème (Rodolfo) 1951
Tosca (Cavaradossi) 1953
Aida (Radames) 1955
Andrea Chénier (Andrea) 1955
Il trovatore (Manrico) 1955
Madama Butterfly (Pinkerton) 1956
La forza del destino (Alvaro) 1957
Khovanshchina (Andrea Khovansky) 1957
Il principe Igor (Vladimiro)
Ernani (Ernani) 1958
Luisa Millar (Rodolfo) 1958
Carmen (Don José) 1958
Don Carlo (Don Carlo) 1958
Il pirata (Gualtiero) 1959
La Gioconda (Enzo) 1959
Moses (Amenofis) 1959
Turandot (Calaf) 1959
I vespri siciliani (Arrigo) 1959
La madre (Il figlio) 1960
Manon Lescaut (des Grieux) 1960
Isabeau (Folco) 1962
Otello (Otello) 1963
Guglielmo Ratcliff (Ratcliff) 1963
Rienzi (Rienzi) 1964
La fanciulla del West (Johnson) 1965
Tannhäuser (Tannhäuser) 1969
Nabucco (Ismaele) 1969
L'olandese volante (Erik) 1970
Sansone e Dalila (Sansone) 1970
Norma (Pollione) 1973
La visita della vecchia signora (Il borgomastro) 1977

Note: Though his family claimed that he sang 45 roles, I have found out only 31 roles. Which, when and where did he sing the other 14 roles? A mystery....I hope someone will be able to solve it. This is similar to the Del Monaco website stating that he sang Otello over 400 times, while the book on Del Monaco recommended by the site can only account for less than 300.


He recorded the role of Enzo in the second discographical version of "La Gioconda" with Maria Callas (1959) for EMI, and the role of Folco in Mascagni's "Isabeau" with Marcella Pobbe (1962) for CETRA label ("live" from Sanremo, 12.01.1962). His voice can also be appreciated in "live" performances of "Il pirata" (with Callas, January 1959), "Guglielmo Ratcliff"(RAI 1963), "La forza del destino" (with Cerquetti, Protti, Simionato, Christoff, Capecchi, Sanzogno, RAI Roma 09/29/1957) on the Myto Label.
Juan Dzazópulos, March 2008

Additional live performances provided by Daniele Godor:
  • TOSCA, with Stella and Guelfi, Capuana, Genova 26.03.1962
  • AIDA, with Nilsson, Simionato, MacNeil, Sanzogno, Scala, 21.04.1960
  • OTELLO with Taddei, Albanese, Silipigni, Trento 23.04.1973
  • OTELLO with Protti, Santunione, Gavarini, Piacenza, 01.10.1965
  • NORMA with Caballe, Cortez, Rescigno, Napoli 11.05.1971
  • CARMEN with Maderia, Beecham, 1958
I wish to thank Daniele Godor for the additions to the discography and recording (Otello).
I wish to thank Juan Dzazópulos for the biographical notes and discography.
I wish to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recordings (Pirata, Ratcliff).

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