B0126. (FRANCO CORELLI) René Seghers. Franco Corelli – Prince of Tenors. New York, Amadeus, 2008. 526pp. Index; Bibliography; Exhaustive Chronology; Photos; DJ. - 9781574671636 884088162023
“With the operatic world at his feet, Corelli’s insecurity was such that at times the fate of this whole world seemed to hang on a feud with the dentist, the health of his pet dog, the inadvertent reference to a rival tenor. The omnipresent wife, watchful and vociferous, is both the guardian of sanity and the promoter of farce. Sometimes it seems that life offstage is a demented extension of the absurdities on….In the midst of all this it must be said that there is one person who keeps his reason and preserves a fair sense of balance, and that is the author. Corelli is a very emotive subject….as we follow him in the late chapters of his book we realise that we are going to care a great deal what becomes of this extraordinary man as his decline approaches….There is a genuine human involvement in this book.”
- John Steane, GRAMOPHONE, Sept., 2008
“René Seghers must possess that rare charm that allows one to magically walk through doors long sealed, or perhaps luck and timing with persistence granted him favor with Corelli's family, friends and the institutions that opened their archives to him.
At last, a short time after Corelli's passing, his family agreed to share their story, pictures, and even private recordings made in his student days (not available with the book). Seghers provides Corelli's family-tree and all vital statistics; we learn that Franco was married in January 1961 just days before his New York début, yet Loretta had been his shadow and constant companion since 1952. Among the book's numerous strengths are the copious snapshots (several shirtless) and many photographs of Corelli in costume from early productions.
Seghers has turned over rocks discovering treasure and kitsch where most would never venture to tread - in the latter category, a musical appearance in the 1956 Italian feature-film: SUPREMA CONFESSIONE; and perhaps most amusing, a series of pictorial novellas made for an Italian magazine as late as 1960 and 1962. Hardly a page is turned without discovering something of importance or interest.
The biography's great strength derives from (but is not limited to) an enormous amount of research in the archives of the Metropolitan Opera and EMI (Corelli's recording company). From these pillars an almost complete picture of the man and artist emerge representing all his triumphs, glory, petty harmful intrigue, and painful human failings. Seghers does not shy from damaging the idol when truth requires it, and the picture painted is of someone all too human.
The biography is strictly chronological, the English flows freely, the text is beautifully printed, and virtually every paragrah has notes describing the sources (usually original). We could probably do without the poorer quality color photographs in the center of the book (and cover), but the many black/white images leave one yearning for even more. There are slight problems with some performance dates and the chronological sequence, but the overwhelming quality and breadth of the research make this work exciting and magnificent.”
- Frank G. Hamilton
“This book improves considerably on a previously-published biography….It is a scrupulously researched, chronological account of Corelli’s life….The standard of research…is precisely what makes this biography superior to its predecessor….Seghers has been extraordinarily energetic and fastidious in seeking factual detail for his portrait….This is as estimable a biography of a singer as one could imagine. Authors of such works often find it hard to resist a partisanship, and few have approached their task in as scholarly a way as René Seghers….the book deserves a wide and appreciative audience.”
- Richard Nicholson, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2008
"Franco Corelli had been singing for well over a decade when he made his Met debut in 1961 at the age of 40. The first attraction in any Corelli performance is the voice itself. Solid and evenly produced from bottom to top, with no audible seams between registers. The middle and lower parts of the voice are dark and richly colored. The top is stunningly brilliant, and never thins out or turns hard. It is a once-in-a-generation kind of voice if your generation is lucky, and in the four decades since his retirement in 1976 we have had nothing like it for visceral power. Some critics complained because Corelli would hold high notes well beyond their value in the score. But if we listen to singers from the past whose careers overlapped with the great Italian opera composers, and who often worked with them, we can easily conclude that the composers expected it. (A recording of an aria from Francesco Cilea's ADRIANA LECOUVREUR by tenor Fernando de Lucia, with the composer accompanying at the piano, exposes liberties that go far beyond anything Corelli ever did, and Cilea echoes those 'distortions' at the keyboard.)"
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE