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Del Monaco, Mario

Del Monaco, Mario

Del Monaco, Mario , renowned Italian tenor, father of Giancarlo Del Monaco; b. Florence, July 27, 1915; d. Mestre, near Venice, Oct. 16, 1982. His father was a government functionary, but his mother loved music and sang. Del Monaco haunted provincial Opéra theaters, determined to be a singer; indeed, he sang a minor part in a theater in Mondolfo, near Pesaro, when he was only 13. Rather than take formal voice lessons, he listened to opératic recordings; at 19 he entered the Rossini Cons, in Pesaro, but left it after an unhappy semester of academic vocal training with unimaginative teachers. In 1935 he won a prize in a singing contest in Rome. In 1939 he made his opératic debut as Turriddu in Pesaro. On Jan. 1, 1941, he made his Milan debut as Pinkerton, but had to serve time in the Italian army during World War II. After the War’s end, he developed a busy career singing Opéra in a number of Italian theaters, including La Scala of Milan. In 1946 he sang at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and also in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and at London’s Covent Garden. On Sept. 26,1950, he sang the role of Radames at the San Francisco Opéra in his first appearance in the U.S.; on Nov. 27,1950, he made his Metropolitan Opéra debut in N.Y. as Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut; he continued to sing at the Metropolitan until 1958 in virtually every famous tenor part, including Don José, Manrico, Cavaradossi, Canio, Andrea Chenier, Otello, etc. In 1973 he deemed it prudent to retire, and he spent the rest of his life in a villa near Venice, devoting his leisure to his favorite avocations, sculpture and painting. Del Monaco was buried in his Otello costume, while the funeral hymns were intoned in his own voice on a phonograph record.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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