DVD0710. OTELLO, Live Performance, 6 Aug., 1966, w.Sanzogno Cond. Teatro la Fenice Ensemble, Venezia; Pier Miranda Ferraro, Tito Gobbi, Anna di Stasio, Giorgio Giorgetti, etc.; TITO GOBBI coaches Mani Mekler & Wolfgang Lenz: La Leçon de musique - filmed 1980, Roma. (Italy) 2-Hardy 4052. - 8018783040528
“In honor of the Tito Gobbi centenary (in 2013), the Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi has unearthed and released this OTELLO, performed in the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice, in August 1966. While technical challenges involved in broadcasting a production back in the '60s, from a venue not designed for theater, caused occasional problems involving camera work and sound, the resulting black-and-white video is well worth having, particularly for Gobbi's brilliant Iago. Although an earlier Gobbi Iago is available from VAI, filmed in Japan in 1959 opposite Mario Del Monaco's titanic Moor, this later document finds the extraordinary baritone no less nimble physically and vocally. In fact, the vastness of the performing area and the evocative atmosphere of the Palazzo Ducale seem to draw from Gobbi a sort of ownership of the environment that is perfect for Iago, as he darts about controlling events like a sardonic puppeteer. And, as one recalls from performances at the Met six months after this one, Gobbi was able to imbue the character with a youthful, amicable persona that made Iago's vile deeds all the more chilling. This video also confirms the recollection that this role, even in late career, was one the great singing actor found vocally congenial. There is a lightness of delivery that makes Iago's Act I drinking song and Act III duet with Cassio particularly stunning. Textual and tonal colors are employed in a manner that feels inevitable rather than applied, and Iago's ‘Credo’ might as well have been written for Gobbi, so perfectly does it suit his gifts. All in all, this is a dazzling performance.
While the remainder of the cast is not on this exalted level, Pier Miranda Ferraro, in the title role, does offer a sturdy dramatic tenor employed with the know-how of one who sang the part often. Facial expressions are frequently lost to the combination of very dark makeup and a scarcity of close-ups, and Miranda Ferraro's body language and vocal acting are not always convincing. But he sings admirably and achieves quite a moving ‘Niun mi tema’….The hour-long bonus disc of Gobbi coaching two young singers (bass Wolfgang Lenz and soprano Mani Mekler) at his home, in excerpts from DON CARLO, TOSCA and SIMON BOCCANEGRA, is worth the cost of the set. Filmed in 1980 for French television, this is more than a star singer lending his aura and snippets of demonstration (although Gobbi does offer ample, absolutely thrilling sung/acted examples to his singers); there is also a wealth of insight and specific information on offer. Along the way, the singers do improve, and we are treated to innumerable goose-bump-inducing moments supplied by the maestro.”
- Ira Siff, OPERA NEWS, June, 2014
"The bonus disc is worth its weight in gold....it's clear that Gobbi has the humanity and the skill to put his message across....Never more so than when Gobbi demonstrates by singing a snatch of Fiesco's music from SIMON BOCCANEGRA - an irreplaceable man and an irreplaceable singer."
- David Cutler, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2015
“Born Pietro Ferraro in Altivole, Ferraro took his stage name from his wife's first name. He was trained by Mirko Bonomi at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice and by Aureliano Pertile at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan. He made his professional opera début as Rodolfo in Puccini's LA BOHÈME at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan in 1951. That same year he began performing at La Scala where he sang often through 1972. His first major triumph at that house was as Achille in Gluck's IPHIGÉNIE EN AULIDE in 1959.
Ferraro became a regular presence at Italy's most important houses during the 1950s through the 1970s, appearing at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Carlo Felice, Teatro di San Carlo, Teatro Regio di Parma, Teatro Massimo, Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi, Teatro Regio di Torino, and La Fenice. He also appeared at the opera festival at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino opera festival. In addition to regularly appearing in Italy's principal opera houses, Ferraro also performed in important houses throughout Europe, including the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, the Liceu, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, La Monnaie, Opéra National de Lyon, Opéra de Marseille, Opéra National de Paris, le Grand Théâtre de Genève, Zürich Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Staatstheater Stuttgart, and Vienna State Opera among others. He also made appearances at the Aix-en-Provence and Aldeburgh Festivals.
Although most of his performances were in Europe, Ferraro did make a handful of appearances in North and South America. He notably portrayed Cavaradossi and Manrico at the New York City Opera in 1956 and starred in productions of DON CARLO, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO and IL TROVATORE at the San Francisco Opera in 1958. Also in 1958, Ferraro sang the rôle of Gualtiero in Bellini’s IL PIRATA with Maria Callas as Imogene in a concert version put on by the American Opera Society at Carnegie Hall. That performance, long prized by collectors, was ‘officially’ released on CD by EMI in 1997. The year after PIRATA, Ferraro recorded the rôle of Enzo in LA GIOCONDA opposite Callas in the title rôle. His other appearances in the Americas included performances at the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company, Cincinnati Opera, and the Teatro Colón. Ferraro was particularly admired for his interpretation of the title rôle in Verdi's OTELLO, which he first sang at San Remo in 1964 and sang for his final opera performance at Lecco in 1981. All told he portrayed Otello over 300 times during his long career.”
“Tito Gobbi was an admired operatic baritone. He originally studied at Padua University for a career in law, but he eventually gave that up in favor of pursuing voice lessons in Rome with Giulio Crimi. He made his operatic début in the town of Gubbio in 1935, as Count Rodolfo in Bellini's LA SONNAMBULA. He was hired at La Scala for the 1935-1936 season as an understudy; his first appearance there was as the Herald in Ildebrando Pizzetti's ORESEOLO.
He won the international singing competition in Vienna in 1936, and as a result he began getting improved billing; he sang the rôle of Germont in LA TRAVIATA at the Teatro Reale in Rome in 1937. In the same year he sang Lelio in Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's LE DONNE CURIOSE, and continued singing secondary rôles there through 1939. He was promoted to primary rôles and in 1941 sang Ford in Verdi's FALSTAFF during a visit by the company to Berlin in 1941. Meanwhile, in a guest appearance at Rieti he first sang the rôle of Scarpia in Puccini's TOSCA in 1940. This was to become his best-known part.
Gobbi made his La Scala début in a major rôle in 1942 as Belcore in L'ELISIR D'AMORE The performance that made him famous, however, was as Wozzeck in the first Italian performance of Alban Berg's opera in Rome in November, 1942. Fighting raged throughout Italy following the Allied invasions there in 1943, interrupting his career. After the war he began to include international appearances. He first appeared in Stockholm in 1947 as Rigoletto; in 1948 he went to Covent Garden in concerts and to San Francisco to début as Figaro in Rossini's BARBER OF SEVILLE. His London operatic début was at Covent Garden as Belcore when the La Scala Company toured there. He appeared in Chicago in 1954 as Rossini's Figaro, and débuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Scarpia, 13 January, 1956. He sang Don Giovanni in Salzburg in 1952 under von Karajan's direction.
He took up producing as well, often at Chicago, where he made regular appearances, and producing opera became an ever more important part of his career after 1965, which is when he produced a performance starring himself in the title rôle of Verdi's SIMON BOCCANEGRA in London.
Gobbi was an excellent actor, had a high degree of musicianship and intelligence, had a flexible, rich, but not large baritone voice, and was at home in a wide variety of parts. He also appeared in 26 movies. He was the brother-in-law of another eminent singer, Boris Christoff. Gobbi retired from the operatic stage in 1979. He published an autobiography (TITO GOBBI: MY LIFE, 1979) and TITO GOBBI AND HIS WORLD OF ITALIAN OPERA (1984). He left a significant legacy of recorded performances, mainly made in the 1950s and 1960s.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com