Salvatore Baccaloni

The famous Italian comic bass and Met mainstay in unusual (Walt Disney) repertory.
Salvatore Baccaloni sings Cinderella (film): Bibbidi bobbidi boo
In RA format

And now for something if not completely, so at least slightly different:
"Ezio Pinza and the Budapest String Quartet"

An absolutely brilliant Ezio Pinza imitator sings I shit more in the summertime (anonymous, for good reason)

I researched this famous-infamous "Ezio Pinza and the Budapest String Quartet" recording at considerable length. There are three questions about it: who the composer may be (I still don't, and will probably never know), whether it's really the Budapest String Quartet (their official discography says it's a fake), and whether it's really Ezio Pinza – this is what my research was about.

Pinza, no it's not. It's an imitator. First of all, amusing as the Italian accent in the "Budapest" recording is, it's clearly underdone – Pinza's own accent was definitely stronger, as strong as even the imitator was not able to do it. Later on, when singing "South Pacific", Pinza improved his English; but our recording is supposed to be from 1943, and there's no reason why also this date should be a fake (for what purpose?) – several years before "South Pacific". There are not that many examples of Pinza's English singing (at least not from the pre-South-Pacific period), but still in 1946, on a Bing Crosby radio show where they sang together, his accent was simply amazing. Second, the imitator's own voice is – it's obvious in direct comparison – darker timbred and much less forward than Pinza's, and the imitator displays a slight wobble on the high notes that Pinza never had. Of course you can imitate a wobble, but why would you if the imitated singer has none; and more important, this wobble is genuine.

It has been suggested (for instance on a CD publication of the recording in question) that the imitator be Earl Wrightson, a radio singer who was apparently famous for his funny Pinza imitations. But this is nonsensical for two reasons: first, the imitator must be really fluent in Italian, or he wouldn't be able to display the accent he does (which is, though less strong than Pinza's own, still strong enough!). Americans of the period (and far later on) were rarely capable to roll their r's in this truly Italian manner. Second, Earl Wrightson had a smooth lyrical baritone voice, definitely lighter and also lighter-timbred than Pinza's – way lighter! To think that he could imitate Pinza like in the "Budapest" song is like thinking that Andrea Bocelli could imitate Lauritz Melchior.

Voice expert Mike Richter once suggested that the imitator be either Nicola Moscona, or less likely Igor Kipnis, who was equally famous for his private Pinza imitations, said Richter. Well, funny as those imitations may have been, I think we can exclude Igor Kipnis; the one singing here certainly has a very large voice, and is certainly a trained singer – had Igor Kipnis been able to sing like that, he would hardly have become a harpsichordist, but a bass like his father. Remains Moscona – but his voice, as related to the imitator's, is like the imitator's as related to Pinza's: much less forward, wobbly (a hundred times more wobbly than the imitator!), and darker in timbre. His is definitely the lowest and least forward voice of all singers considered here, so he is far indeed from Pinza's singing; and what's maybe more important, he couldn't have achieved that accent. His Italian wasn't very good (he was Greek, not Italian), and he didn't roll his r's.

So who else? Well, I'm convinced the answer is to be found above: listen to Baccaloni's "Bibbidi bobbidi boo"... he was a proven humorist, he was Italian, he spoke far better English than Pinza (which was not difficult either), he had a large, dark-timbred voice, forward, but not that forward as Pinza's – and he had a slight wobble...

I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recordings.

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