Emilio Renzi

2 November 1908 Faenza – 3 October 1990 Torino

Emilio Renzi singsDie Rose von Stambul: O rosa di Stambul, with Palmira Marini Vitali
In RA format
Renzi was born into a peasant family. At age 8, he had to abandon school so as to help farming the lands, when World War I had slashed the workforce. As a teenager, he loved to sing and was well-known among the locals for his pretty voice, and when he was about 18 years old, the lady who owned the lands that the Renzi family had leased convinced his parents to allow Emilio to study voice. The locals, guided by the innkeeper, raised the necessary funds, and off he went to Bologna and later to Milano to take voice lessons. Unfortunately, he chanced upon incompetent teachers, and the effect of their lessons was that he lost his voice and had to return home to Faenza, devastated. Before long, though, he got advice from Faenza's tenor glory Antonio Melandri, who sent him to his old teacher Andrea Toscani.

With Toscani, it worked, and Renzi made his debut at the very end of 1932. He had success at smaller theaters, but after barely one year, he interrupted his young career to take further voice lessons with Alessandro Bonci. Another year later, he came back, his technique greatly improved.

For the next fifteen years, he was busy on mostly secondary stages, but also regularly at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova and the Verdi in Trieste, plus a few times at the Comunale in Florence, the Regio in Parma, La Fenice in Venice, the opera theater in Rome, and even La Scala (L'oca del Cairo, 1940, 4 performances; Falstaff as Fenton, 1943, 1 performance; L'amour des trois oranges, 1947/48, 4 performances). Abroad, he made one tour each to Germany (1939) and Albania (1941), and sang in Brussels (Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg, 1944; Monnaie, 1949), Aix-les-Bains and Geneva (1946), Lisbon (Teatro Coliseo, 1947), Lugano, Antwerp and Aix-en-Provence (all 1949), and Cairo (1951). He did also a lot of concert work: Bruckner's Te Deum, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Verdi's Requiem, Haydn's Schöpfung and Jahreszeiten, plus regular aria concerts.

In 1935, he started his long-lasting association with the Italian radio EIAR, the later RAI, for which he sang a host of roles in both opera and operetta. And on the radio (and on records), he made at the same time a second, much different career as a crooner and interpreter of Fascist propaganda songs, under the name "Aldo Visconti".

In 1937, he married soprano Marcella Ferrero, with whom he had sung in Barbiere two years before in Rijeka.

Legend has it that his career ended after WWII because he had compromised himself too profoundly with all those gruesome Fascist songs, but that's not compatible with the facts: the majority of his appearances outside Italy took place after the war, he continued to sing main roles in Italy; in 1947, he even returned to La Scala, and in 1948 sang Oberon at the Rome opera, so the (undeniable) compromising by his Fascist involvement didn't obviously hamper his career. Only in 1953, he switched to comprimario parts (mostly at the Carlo Felice in Genova), and in 1956, he joined the choir of the Torino branch of the RAI radio.

He made many records under the names Emilio Renzi, Aldo Visconti and Marcello Ferrero for the labels Excelsius/Italdisco, Cetra, Odeon, Columbia, La voce del padrone and Fonit – almost exclusively music from the crooner and Fascist departments.


Faust – Garlasco, Sociale, 28 December 1932
L'elisir d'amore – Milano, Filodrammatici, 26 February 1933
Don Pasquale – Rapallo/S. Margherita Ligure/Lavagna/Sestri Levante, tour 10 February – 12 March 1933
Il barbiere di Siviglia – Rapallo/S. Margherita Ligure/Lavagna/Sestri Levante, tour 10 February – 12 March 1933
La cambiale di matrimonio – Montecatini, Trianon, 28 September 1934
La traviata – Montecatini, Trianon, 11 October 1934
L'arlesiana – Rimini, Politeama, 10 February 1935
Les pêcheurs de perles (excerpts) – Roma, EIAR, 2 April 1935
La sonnambula – Milano, Puccini, 28 May 1935
Crispino e la comare – Torino, Carignano, 2 February 1937
Rigoletto (role: Duca) – Torino, Carignano, 9 February 1937
Il campiello – Torino, Carignano, 21 February 1937
La Cenerentola – Torino, Carignano, 28 February 1937
Lass Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl (cantata, composer: Bach) – Torino, EIAR, 19 March 1937
La bella dormente nel bosco (composer: Respighi) – Torino, EIAR, 22 July 1937
Primavera (composer: Respighi) – Torino, EIAR, 22 July 1937
Ariadne auf Naxos (roles: Scaramuccio, Tanzmeister) – Torino, EIAR, 19 August 1937
Le preziose ridicole (composer: Lattuada) – Roma, EIAR, 5 September 1937
Norma (role: Flavio) – Torino,EIAR, 9 September 1937
König David (composer: Honegger) – Torino, EIAR, 7 January 1938
Te Deum (composer: Bruckner) – Torino, EIAR, 18 March 1938
Ode sinfonica (composer: Cilea) – Torino, EIAR, 18 March 1938 (world premiere)
Ninth Symphony (composer: Beethoven) – Brescia, Grande, 4 April 1938
Messa da Requiem (composer: Verdi) – Trento, Sociale, 12 April 1938
Ascesa (symphonic work, composer: Cantarini) – Torino, EIAR, 24 May 1938
Maria Egiziaca (composer: Respighi; roles: il Marinaio, il Lebbroso) – Torino, EIAR, 2 June 1938
I dispettosi amanti (composer: Parelli; role: Florindo) – 16 June 1938
I misteri dolorosi (composer: Cattazzo; role: Giovanni) – Torino, EIAR, 11 July 1938
Rosa rossa (composer: Bossi; role: lo Studente) – Torino, EIAR, 8 August 1938
Oberon (role: Oberon) – Roma, EIAR, 31 August 1938
La bisbetica domata (composer: Persico; role: Lucenzio) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 4 February 1939
Die Jahreszeiten – Trieste, Verdi, 24 March 1939
Il matrimonio segreto (role: Paolino) – Mainz/Kassel and other places in Germany, tour 28 August – 12 September 1939
L'oca del Cairo – Milano, Scala, 5 March 1940
Nina pazza per amore (composer: Paisiello) – Milano, Manzoni, 31 March 1940
Eva (composer: Lehár) – Torino, EIAR, 17 April 1940
La grançeola (composer: Lualdi; role: Marchetto) – Torino, EIAR, 27 September 1940
Il malato immaginario (composer: Napoli, role: Cleanto) – Roma, EIAR, 15 October 1940
Estasi francescana (oratorio, composer: Selvaggi) – Torino, EIAR, 3 January 1941
Così fan tutte – Genova, Carlo Felice, 1 February 1941
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (role: Belmonte) – Trieste, Verdi, 20 February 1941
Der Rosenkavalier (role: Italienischer Sänger) – Torino, EIAR, 18 July 1942
Falstaff (role: Fenton) – Piacenza, Comunale, 20 September 1942
Les noces – Torino, Pro Cultura, 12 September 1944
Mavra – Venezia, Fenice, 18 November 1944
Don Giovanni – Ginevra, di Stato, 24 February 1946
Die Schöpfung – Torino, RAI, 5 July 1946
Manon – Lisbona, Coliseo, 22 January 1947
Lucia di Lammmermoor (role: Edgardo) – S. Benedetto del Tronto, open air, 13 August 1947
L'amour des trois oranges (role: Prince) – Roma, RAI, 18 September 1947
Paganini (composer: Lehár) – Torino, RAI, 15 Aprile 1948
Die Fledermaus – Torino, RAI, 11 May 1948
Die Dollarprinzessin – Torino, RAI, 28 May 1948
L'amante di tutte (composer: Galuppi) – Siena, dei Rozzi, 24 September 1948
Angélique (composer: Ibert, role: l'Italiano) – Siena, dei Rozzi, 17 October 1948
Lo frate 'nnamorato – Milano, Angelicum, 20 October 1949
Il prigioniero – Torino, RAI, 1 December 1949
Oedipus rex – Torino, RAI, 6 January 1950
Il martirio di Santa Orsola (composer: Scarlatti) – Roma, Accademia di S. Cecilia, 20 January 1950
Werther – Torino, RAI, 15 February 1950
Salade (composer: Milhaud; role: Pulcinella) – Firenze, Comunale, 28 May 1950
Un curioso accidente (composer: Napoli; role: Mr. de la Coteri) – Bergamo, Donizetti, 19 September 1950
Pagliacci (role: Beppe) – Cairo, ?, 10 February 1951
La fille de Madame Angot – Torino, RAI, 15 March 1951
Die Rose von Stambul – Torino, RAI, 5 April 1951
La belle Hélène – Torino, RAI, 13 April 1951
Volo di notte (role: Pellerin) – Roma, RAI, 19 April 1951
Emiral (composer: Barilli; role: Fadil) – Roma, RAI, 25 October 1951
Illusions (composer: Harsanyi; role: Balthazar) – Torino, RAI, 20 November 1951
Otello (role: Cassio) – Mantova, Sociale, 9 February 1952
Il finto Arlecchino – Roma, RAI, 25 May 1952
Miseria e nobiltà (composer: Napoli; role: Eugenio) – Milano, RAI, 21 June 1952
Don Carlo (roles: Conte di Lerma, Araldo reale) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 6 March 1953
Lucia di Lammermoor (role: Arturo) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 14 March 1953
Die Zauberflöte (role: Zweiter Priester) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 1 April 1953
Aida (role: il Messaggero) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 9 April 1953
Il tabarro (role: il Tinca) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 18 April 1953
L'amore dei tre re (role: Flaminio) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 24 April 1953
Louise (role: le Noctambule/le Pape des Fous) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 2 May 1953
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (role: Zorn) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 10 April 1954
Rigoletto (role: Borsa) – Genova, Carlo Felice, 20 April 1954
Der Freischütz (role: Ottokar) – Torino, RAI, 28 November 1954
Orphée aux enfers (role: Vulcano, probably an invented speaking part) – Torino, RAI, 7 April 1978

Reference for the biography, repertory and pictures: Emilio Renzi, alias Aldo Visconti, una vita per la musica, TIMAClub
I wish to thank Paolo Cavassini for the recording.

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