Norberto Ardelli

25 November 1896 – 2 August 1971 New York City

Picture of Norberto Ardelli

Norberto Ardelli singsPagliacci: Vesti la giubba

Norberto Ardelli, sometimes just Norbert Ardelli, was of course a stage name (for anyone faintly familiar with Italian, "Norberto" already sounds so wrong!), but also the vita that the artist gave of himself was a... stage vita. He claimed to have been born in 1902 in Trieste, i. e. in the Italian speaking part of then Austria, into an Italian family, and to have been raised in the US. In reality, he was born Norbert Adler six years earlier, on the far side of the Hapsburg Empire, somewhere in (historically Polish and now Ukrainian) Galicia, into a Jewish family, and his parents did certainly not emigrate to America.

He studied voice back home (quite certainly in Lemberg/Lviv) and in Italy, and seems to have made his debut in 1923 in Bari, at the Teatro Petruzzelli as Duca. In 1924, he was Lohengrin in Modena, and in 1925, Grigorij at the Fenice in Venice. He also sang in Rome, Naples, Bologna, Como, and made his first US appearances in Chicago and at the Manhattan Opera House.

In 1930, he left Italy and went to Germany: Lübeck (1930–33), Stettin (1933/34). Although being Jewish, he was not forced to leave Germany (Jews with other than the German citizenship could stay and work, and he must have been a Polish citizen), but he sang primarily in Austria nonetheless after 1934: for one year at the Vienna Volksoper, then at the Vienna Staatsoper as a permanent guest. It did not prevent him from going back to Germany, as well, and make a film in Berlin in 1936 (Mädchen in Weiß, with Maria Cebotari). The same year 1936 found him also in Kaunas, stepping in as Radames for Kipras Petrauskas.

The ink on his contract as a permanent member of the Vienna Staatsoper was not quite dry when the Nazis seized power also in Austria, and he left the country – first to Italy, where he was Lohengrin and Turiddu at La Scala in 1940, and then to the US. He settled in New York City, where he was, from 1943, a lead tenor at the newly founded New York City Opera. He quit the stage in 1950 and became a voice teacher.

Ardelli left hardly any recordings: apart from the film mentioned above, there are some snippets from live performances at the Vienna Staatsoper – and one sole studio recording, the Vesti la giubba posted here (V-Disc 272B, matrix VP 693).

Reference 1; reference 2; reference 3: Kutsch & Riemens; reference 4: New York Times, 5 August 1971; reference 5: Filmwelt – Das Film- und Foto-Magazin, no. 35, 30 August 1936

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