OP2178. POLIUTO (Donizetti), Live Performance, 7 Dec., 1960, w.Votto Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, Ettore Bastianini, Nicola Zaccaria, etc. (E.U.) 2-Myto 00234. - 0801439902343
"Vocal size and rugged style mark [Corelli] as an open-air tenor….The vibrancy of his timbre is unequaled among tenors, and often it holds a commendable warmth as well…."
- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, p.374
“While Ettore Bastianini's career was quite short, it was also distinguished. He was regarded as having one of the finest Verdi and verismo voices of his day, though his vocal gifts were not always matched by an equal musicianship.
Bastianini studied privately with Gaetano Vanni, and sang in the local choir. His professional solo début was in a concert in Siena early in 1945, and his operatic début was at the Ravenna opera as Colline in Puccini's LA BOHÈME later that year. He sang at the smaller houses throughout Italy and even went abroad to Cairo with a touring company, still singing the bass repertoire, including Mephistopheles in Gounod's FAUST. His La Scala début was in 1948 as Tirésias in Stravinsky's OEDIPUS REX. During these years, he began to wonder if he was truly a bass, and in 1951, he made his début as a baritone early in 1951 at the Bologna Opera as Germont in LA TRAVIATA. However, the performance was not especially successful, and he resumed intense studies over the next few months, giving special attention to developing his upper register. When he returned to the stage that summer, he had achieved just that goal, and his high notes were now considered his vocal glory. In 1953 Bastianini performed opposite Maria Callas for the first of many times, as Enrico Asthon in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR at the Teatro Comunale Florence. That same year he sang the rôle of Carlo Gérard in Giordano's ANDREA CHÉNIER for the first time at the Teatro Regio di Torino. He made his Metropolitan Opera début as Germont on 5 December, 1953, opposite Licia Albanese as Violetta and Richard Tucker as Alfredo. The following January he sang Enrico to Lily Pons' Lucia and Jan Peerce's Edgardo at the Met. On 10 May, 1954, he made his début as a baritone at La Scala, in the title rôle of Tchaikovsky's EUGENE ONEGIN with Renata Tebaldi as Tatyana.
In the Fall of 1954, Bastianini joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera where he sang regularly through May 1957. His rôles at the Met during this time included Amonasro, Carlo Gérard, Count di Luna, Enrico, Germont, Marcello in LA BOHÈME, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, and the title rôle in RIGOLETTO. He later returned to the Met in the Spring of 1960 to portray several rôles including Don Carlo in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO. He returned to the Met again in January 1965 where he spent most of that year singing in several of his prior rôles with the company, as well as performing Scarpia in TOSCA. His 87th and final performance at the Met was as Rodrigo on 11 December, 1965. It was also coincidentally the last performance of his career.
In 1956, he made his Chicago début as Riccardo in Bellini's I PURITANI. In 1962, he made his Covent Garden début as Renato in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. Early in 1963, he left the stage for a few months, letting it be understood that he was resting, but in fact, he was undergoing treatment for throat cancer. His return performances and subsequent performances were poorly received, often with booing from the audience, as he was often hoarse, off-pitch, and under-powered. While he was deeply dismayed at this, he still did not speak of his illness; for all except family and close friends, it came as a complete surprise until after the announcement of his death. His last performance was in 1965 at the Metropolitan Opera.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
“By January 1838, Donizetti was in negotiations with the Paris Opéra to compose two new works. While in Venice for the première of MARIA DE RUDENZ he had met Adolphe Nourrit, who for more than a decade had been the principal tenor in Paris. However, Nourrit’s popularity was now in decline and he was in danger of being supplanted in the public's affections by a rising star Gilbert Louis Duprez. Nourrit and Donizetti were in complete agreement that a Grand Opera in the style of Halevy's LA JUIVE would exactly suit the tastes of a French audience and provide Nourrit with the ideal vehicle to restore his career.
However, Donizetti's next opera was scheduled to be premiered in Naples, the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, whose King Ferdinand II was a devout Catholic who refused to allow any representation on the stage of scenes of a religious nature. At the last minute, the King forbade the production. The management of the Teatro di San Carlo were forced to substitute PIA DE' TOLOMEI, and Donizetti left immediately for Paris vowing never to have any dealings with Naples in the future. The cancellation dealt a crushing blow to Adolphe Nourrit's hopes of reviving his flagging career. On 8 March 1839, he committed suicide by jumping from the window of his apartment in Naples. On reaching Paris, Donizetti revised and expanded the opera to a French text which was eventually produced as LES MARTYRS at the Salle Le Peletier of the Paris Opéra on 10 April 1840. POLIUTO was not performed in its original form until after Donizetti's death.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron