Battistini, Mattia, celebrated Italian baritone; b. Rome, Feb. 27, 1856; d. Colle Baccaro, near Rieti, Nov. 7, 1928. He studied with V. Persichini and E. Terziani. On Dec. 11, 1878, he made his operatic debut as Alfonso XI in La Favorite at the Teatro Argentino in Rome. In 1883 he made his first appearance at London’s Covent Garden as Riccardo in I Puritani, and he returned to London regularly until 1906. In 1888 he made his debut at Milan’s La Scala as Nélusko. He first sang in St. Petersburg in 1893 as Hamlet, and returned there every season until 1914. He also sang in various other European music centers and in South America to great acclaim. Although he never sang in the U.S., he was acknowledged as the foremost Italian baritone of his time. In 1924 he retired from the operatic stage and then appeared in concerts until his farewell in Graz on Oct. 17, 1927. Battistini was a master of bel canto, with a remarkably expressive high register. His operatic repertoire included over 80 roles, among the most celebrated being those in operas by Bellini and Donizetti. He also was renowned for his portrayals of Rossini’s Figaro, Rigoletto, Don Giovanni, Amonasro, Ruslan, lago, One-gin, Rubinstein’s Demon, Scarpia, and the tenor role of Werther.
F. Palmegiani, M. B. (II re dei baritone) (Milan, 1948).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire