B0743. GIACOMO LAURI-VOLPI, un Tenore dall’800 - A Biography - Maurizio Tiberi. Roma, TIMA Club, 2012. 691pp. Index; Exhaustive Chronology, 1914-77; Discography; Filmography; Repertoire; List of Lauri-Volpi’s writings; Numerous Photos, many never before in print; Illustrated with concert & opera program reproductions, newspaper articles & reviews, plus Fono Roma, Disco Nacional, LVDP, HMV, Victor & Italian, USA & South American Brunswick advertisements. (Italian Text) (Pictorial thick paper covers) Extremely Limited Edition.
“This book is almost as valuable to those who do not read Italian as to native speakers because it is less a conventional biography than a compendium of Volpiana. Notable are the numerous photographs, frequently from the tenor’s own archives….Listed are his books, films, television appearances, musical compositions, decorations and hundreds of miscellaneous writings….The Discography, generously illustrated with comntemporary advertising material, includes commercial, non-commercial, radio and private recordings….Lauri-Volpi enthusiasts should not hesitate to buy this book which, like the 5–CD [TIMAClub] set…is unlikely to be available for long.
- Michael E Henstock, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2013
“Every self-respecting collector of vocal recordings has known Maurizio Tiberi of course for years. A pioneer in the preservation of the vocal legacy of Italy’s legendary opera singers, Tiberi has been responsible for numerous interesting LP and CD releases, often with splendid booklets, in most cases with complete biographies. Several of them are sold out completely, others are still available, and I urge our readers to acquire them before they also will disappear forever. In the past he published the only biography of Lina Pagliughi and more recently he was responsible for the only and definitive GIOVANNI MARTINELLI biography. A ‘must-have’ book for every tenor fan. Another ‘must-have’ book is Tiberi’s book on the vocal miracle which was GIACOMO LAURI-VOLPI. This 691 page opus is a remarkable achievement not only because of its many years of research but also for its unique iconographic material. Literally hundreds of rare photos are included not only of the great tenor but also of his colleagues, theatre programmes, movie stills, cartoons, record sleeves etc. A goldmine!
The biography itself is a marvel of research, seasoned with anecdotes, reviews, contracts and letters (Callas included). Tiberi doesn’t eschew Lauri-Volpi’s relationship with Mussolini –which makes fascinating reading - and he tackles in depth the 1929 clash between the tenor and Toscanini in Berlin. Tiberi also gives the final answer as to whom Puccini really wanted as his first Calaf and he devotes several pages on the ‘friendship’ between the tenor and Franco Corelli including two rare photos. Moreover, the narrative is seasoned with several biographies of important colleagues of Lauri-Volpi. So for the price of this book one also gets a rather extended biography of Antonio (Toto) Cotogni, Lauri-Volpi’s teacher but also other biographical thumbnail biographies including Guido Volpi, Carmelo Alabiso, Emma Carelli, Rosina Storchio, Gilda dalla Rizza and many others.
Maurizio Tiberi is to be complemented for his heroic efforts (don’t forget this is a one- man enterprise) to preserve the heritage of Italian vocal art.”
- Rudi van den Bulck, OPERANOSTALGIA
“The intense, sometimes febrile art of Giacomo Lauri-Volpi seemed, during his early prime, a natural extension of his voice - powerful, edgy, and possessed of a rapid, nervous-sounding vibrato. Described as ‘a law unto himself’ by soprano Maria Carbone, Lauri-Volpi eventually settled into a somewhat more measured (though scarcely less competitive) artistry and may be considered one of the most important Italian tenors of his age. He continued to sing well into his sixties, although by that time, mere loudness was the primary attraction. An intelligent man behind the temperamental façade, he wrote perceptively of his own singing and that of other contemporary artists. The best known of his books is VOCI PARALLELE—a revealing study of singers and their vocal techniques that is frequently cited by historians. Lauri-Volpi wrote five volumes of memoirs and singing treatises, his two final publications, VOCE PARALLELE (1955 and MISTERI DELLA VOCE UMANA (1957), being the best-known and most influential. His main published works are:
• Voci Parallele (Ricordi, Napoli, 1955);
• L'Equivoco, Cosi è, e non vi pare
(Corbaccio, Milano, 1938);
• Aviso Aperto, (Corbaccio, Milano, 1953)
Following studies at Rome's Accademia di Santa Cecilia with Enrico Rosati and Antonio Cotogni, Lauri-Volpi made his stage début in Viterbo in the rôle of Arturo in Bellini's I PURITANI. He sang that 1919 production under the name of Giacomo Rubini. The following year, he introduced himself to Rome, singing the rôle of Des Grieux in Massenet's MANON (opposite the famous Rosina Storchio), now as Giacomo Lauri-Volpi. His La Scala début came in 1922 as the Duke and he remained an important singer there throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Lauri-Volpi first appeared at the Metropolitan Opera on 26 January, 1923, as the Duke, opening a decade-long relationship with that house singing, among other rôles, the first American performance of Rodolfo in Verdi's LUISA MILLER. He sang in the 16 November, 1926, American première of TURANDOT, Calaf being a perfect match for his firm legato and brilliant top notes. The tenor's début had brought a positive verdict from veteran critic W.J. Henderson who deemed his voice of ‘excellent quality’, but questionable health held more comprehensive evaluation at bay. Subsequent seasons brought a greater appreciation of his gifts, although he never won the level of acclaim that greeted him in his native country. At the end of the 1932-1933 season, he was not re-engaged due to a salary dispute because of the Great Depression.
The tenor's début at Covent Garden in 1925 as Andrea Chénier found the tenor's ‘top notes and Italian vulgarities’ pleasing those in the gallery but not many others. Apparent fee problems kept Lauri-Volpi away from London until 1936, when he returned as the Duke in RIGOLETTO and refused, perhaps because of a tepid reception, to take even a single curtain call. As Radames and Cavaradossi, the tenor had better fortune, being well-received in both rôles and, in the latter, showing his ability to out-sing a too-loud orchestra. His high fees, however, precluded a re-engagement.
Seasons at Paris and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires brought generally positive reviews. Among honors in Italy were his assignment of the title rôle in Boito's NERONE to open the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome in 1928 and his engagement for the rôle of Arnold in La Scala's centenary mounting of GUILLAUME TELL. From the mid-1930s on, Lauri-Volpi's performances took place primarily in Italy and Spain. Although he retired at 67, he occasionally appeared at public occasions to sing an aria or two, most notably at Barcelona when, at age 80, he sang ‘Nessun dorma’ from TURANDOT.
Lauri-Volpi was remembered by the public and colleagues alike as an uneven, but often electrifying singer.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
"Lauri Volpi was a highly cultivated, deeply religious man. He shunned publicity in every form and—unfortunately for us—hated making records. He was fundamentally a timid man, but had to be aggressive in order to survive in the cynical operatic environment….Lauri Volpi and Maria Jeritza premiered TURANDOT at the Met on 16 November 1926. On the opening night, Lauri-Volpi noticed that the public remained unresponsive to the aria ‘Nessun Dorma’, as Puccini had written it; that is, without the ‘corona’ on the final high B. So, after getting Serafin's approval, the night of the second performance, Lauri-Volpi, for the first time in the history of TURANDOT, topped off the aria with a sustained high B which [made] the audience delirious. He can rightly be called the creator of the ‘Nessun Dorma’ as it is sung today."
- Dr. Nardoianni, (personal acquaintance of Lauri-Volpi)