Gobbi, Tito, famous Italian baritone; b. Bassano del Grappa, near Venice, Oct. 24, 1913; d. Rome, March 5, 1984. He received vocal lessons from Barone Zanchetta in Bassano del Grappa before going to Rome to train with Giulio Crimi, then made his operatic debut as Count Rodolfo in La Sonnambula in Gubbio (1935). During the 1935-36 season, he was an understudy at Milan’s La Scala, where he made a fleeting stage appearance as the Herald in Pizzetti’s Oreseolo (1935). In 1936 he won 1st prize in the male vocal section of the Vienna International Competition; then went to Rome, where he sang Germont pére at the Teatro Adriano (1937); that same year he made his first appearance at the Teatro Reale, in the role of Lelio in Wolf-Ferrari’s Le Donne curiose; after singing secondary roles there (1937-39), he became a principal member of the company; appeared as Ford in Falstaff during its visit to Berlin in 1941. He also sang on the Italian radio and made guest appearances with other Italian opera houses; in Rieti in 1940 he first essayed the role of Scarpia, which was to become his most celebrated characterization. In 1942 he made his formal debut at La Scala as Belcore in L’elisir d ’amove. In 1947 he appeared as Rigoletto in Stockholm, and in 1948 he sang in concerts in London and also made his U.S. debut as Figaro in // Barbiere di Siviglia at the San Francisco Opera. In 1950 he made his Covent Garden debut in London as Renato in Un ballo in maschera. He made his first appearance at the Chicago Opera as Rossini’s Figaro in 1954. On Jan. 13, 1956, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as Scarpia. In subsequent years, his engagements took him to most of the principal music centers of the world. He was also active as an opera producer from 1965. In 1979 he bade farewell to the operatic stage. He was the brother-in-law of Boris Christoff. Gobbi was acclaimed as an actor as well as a singer; his mastery extended to some 100 roles. He publ. Tito Gobbi: My Life (1979) and Tito Gobbi and His World of Italian Opera (1984).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire