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Carlo Bergonzi RIP


Bruce Wall
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Bergonzi, for my money, was the greatest Verdi tenor of the last 50 years and one of the greatest tenors of the Italian repertory generally since the second world war. From my (very limited) personal contact he was also an amiable, charming and genuinely nice man, I wasn't able to see him at Covent Garden in his debut there in Forza (1962 I think), but I saw him in all the roles he sang thereafter at the Royal Opera House. His greatest triumph, I think, was in the Ballo performances in which he appeared. They were sensationally good and I still remember how crowded was Floral Street with hundreds of people all waving money trying to buy tickets for the later performances.

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A great tenor.He may have belonged to the stand and deliver school of opera singing but the voice was

wonderful and because he did not take on roles that were too heavy for him he was still able to deliver

the goods into his sixties.

 

The Lucia performances that he gave at Covent Garden in 1985 with Joan Sutherland were extraordinary not because the protagonists'combined ages were at least 120 but because they both had such good vocal

technique that they were still able to give performances that singers half their age would have been

proud of. I recall at least one critic writing that every student of singing in London should try to get a ticket to hear this object lesson in singing.

 

Bergonzi enjoyed a long career and as a result I was lucky enough to hear him in several roles at

Covent Garden.He was the finest interpreter of Verdi and Donizetti tenor roles that I have heard in

the flesh and on record.

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