Part II - Your Favorites: ETTORE BASTIANINI





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Published on Nov 10, 2009

THIS PART IS FOR YOUR FAVORITES! Please discuss this artist with your comments!

Ettore Bastianini, Baritone (1922-1967)

Giuseppe Verdi - La Forza del Destino
Invano Alvaro ti celasti al mondo
With Mario del Monaco, Tenor (1915-1982)
(Recorded 1955)

My personal opinion: We have another fourth position, and accidentally all singers are Baritones: Titta Ruffo, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Ettore Bastianini, whose international career until 1965 was cut short by his cancer disease. Two years later, Bastianini died only age 44. "In a career spanning little more than a dozen years, he came to typify the ideal Verdi baritone. His voice had a burnished, brazen quality that carried an inimitable thrill even if at times he lacked subtlety. His early training as a bass, before he shifted tessitura in 1952, seemed to give the lower reaches of his voice a stentorian heft that does not sound as if it could be comfortably carried up. Despite this he developed the most brilliant upper extension rising to a ringing top A flat. His diction was exemplary and he was handsome of physique; perhaps the only baritone who could properly measure up, physically and vocally, to Franco Corelli and Mario Del Monaco on stage." (Ralph Moore) Again John Steane, who wrote, that Ettore Bastianini was one of those singers, unable to sing a single syllable on more than one note without insert an aspiration. And furthermore, Steane claimed, that Bastianini never gave more than an ordinary rendition. But, what a veritable miracle, the "fussy" Mr. Kesting recognized, "that Bastianinis best Verdi-roles are Don Carlo in "Forza" and Posa in "Don Carlo", in which he distanced all rivals (Recordings 1955 and 1961 under Molinari-Pradelli and Santini). He sung Posa "with delightful legato". It´s easy to see, all in all Ettore Bastianini was a singer who received most different assessments. Reviewer Ralph Moore dared to say, "that Pavel Lisitsian was the only contemporary baritone who could rival him in sheer Italianate amplitude of voice; to find their equal you would have to go back to Ruffo, Stracciari and Amato, putting Bastianini in exalted company." Well, what about my own opinion? First: Mr. Bastianini possessed one of the most beautiful bariton-voices the world ever knew, full of "silk" and sensuality. I agree with Moore, that only Pavel Lisitsian was comparable. But in many recordings, unfortunately I hear what one reviewer called "a tonal nirvana": Insecurity of intonation and indifferent pronunciation. For instance in the great duet Carlo-Alvaro, even a rowdy just as Mario del Monaco was more stabilized. The difference is more evident, if you compare Mr. Bastianini with the sonorous sound and diction of Leonard Warren (1958 under Previtali with di Stefano) and Robert Merrill (1964 under Schippers with Tucker). And so at last, I disagree with Moore, that Mr. Bastianini was "the ideal Verdi-baritone". He didn´t convince me as Rigoletto (Where was the refined singing "between the lines", especially in the scenes with his daughter/Renata Scotto?). And his "Largo al factotum" from "Barbiere" is near to what I call "Caricature of an aria" - a highly charged rendition. Maybe Ettore Bastianini needed the hand of a strong conductor. With Gavazzeni and Serafin he made his best recordings: Gérard in "Andrea Chenier" (1956) and Marcello in "La Bohème" (1959) with Carlo Bergonzi in one of his greatest performances ever! It was a immense tragedy, that destiny took Mr. Bastianinis life prematurely. What remains is the memory of a singer, who perhaps never had the opportunity to show his very best. Stuff of legends!


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