Augusto Brogi

1847 Sesto Fiorentino – January 1917 Firenze

Picture of Augusto Brogi

He studied voice at the Istituto musicale in Florence, and made his debut in 1872 at the Teatro Pagliano, again in Florence, in La contessa di Amalfi by Petrella – as a baritone. After a few seasons at the theaters of Florence, he arrived at the Teatro Apollo in Rome, at three Milano theaters (La Scala, Manzoni and Dal Verme), at the Fenice in Venice, and the Comunale in Bologna, and then embarked on a first-rate international career: Paris, Vienna, Budapest, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Stockholm (Luna and Rigoletto, 1883), Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro... He was a really famous baritone; for example, he sang in two Ponchielli world premieres: Don Rodrigo in the revised version of I promessi sposi (Teatro Dal Verme, 5 December 1872) and, written explicitly for him by Ponchielli, Marchese di Savergny in Marion Delorme (La Scala, 17 March 1885). Verdi, too, seems to have thought highly of him.

After 15 years as a baritone, he switched to tenor in 1887, and continued his career for another 15 years, on the same level of prominence. However, it seems that his style went out of fashion towards the end of the 19th century, or perhaps his voice declined: Giulio Ricordi, the famous editor of music, discouraged young Giacomo Puccini from hiring Brogi, and Arturo Toscanini fired him from La Scala in 1898 after having criticized Brogi's singing, which led to a heated argument – Brogi was not exactly shy or easy to deal with (and brought his dismissal from La Scala to court). After his career, he opened a school of singing in Florence. That he had still a short temper is attested by an episode that occurred in Milano in 1903: Brogi and his son went by tram, the son quarreled with the driver, and eventually Brogi himself bashed the tram driver with his walking cane, and spent the night in police custody.

Of course, at the very end of his career, Brogi could have recorded, and obviously, tests were made. He was so dissatisfied that he insisted all matrices be deleted, and declared "those who want to hear me have to come to the theater".

He was the uncle of Renato Brogi, the composer of the well-known song Visione veneziana.

Reference 1, reference 2, reference 3, reference 4

Literature: Maurizio Sessa, Augusto Brogi. Il "baritono tenore" di Sesto Fiorentino (1847–1917), Sesto Fiorentino 2020

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