|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 debut in the town of Gubbio
in 1935, as Count Rodolfo in Bellini's "La sonnambula." He was hired at Milan's
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. As a result he began getting improved billing; he sang the role 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 roles through 1939 there. He was promoted to primary roles 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 role of Scarpia in Puccini's "Tosca" in 1940. This was to become his best-known part.
Gobbi made his La Scala debut in a major role in 1942 as Belcore in "L'Elisir d'Amore." However, the performance that made him famous 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 debut as Figaro in Rossini's "Barber of Seville." His London operatic debut was at Covent Garden as Belcore when the La Scala Company toured there. He appeared in Chicago in 1954 as Rossini's Figaro, and debuted at the Metropolitan Opera Company as Scarpia, January 13, 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 role of Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra" in London.
Although he was particularly well known for his portrayal of Verdi's baritone roles (including Posa in "Don Carlos"), and of Puccini's (Scarpia, Jack Rance, Gianni Schicchi), he had a very large repertory of well over 100 roles, including such rare operas as Malipiero's "Ecuba" (as Ulysses), Teprulov in Rocca's "Monte Ivnor," the Count of Albaforita in Persico's "La locandiera," and operas by Lualdi, Napoli, and Ghedini. He 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, Rovi
Tito Gobbi at Lyric Opera of Chicago
1954 - Barber of Seville (Figaro) with Simionato, Simoneau, Badioli, Rossi-Lemeni; Rescigno
Traviata (Germont) with Callas, Simoneau, Lind, Foldi; Rescigno
Tosca (Scarpia) with Steber, di Stefano, Badioli, Foldi, Stewart (Angelotti), William Mason (Shepherd Boy); Rescigno
1955 - Aïda (Amonasro) with Tebaldi, Antonioli, Varnay, Wildermann; Serafin
Bohème (Marcello) with Tebaldi, di Stefano, Lind, Rossi-Lemeni, Foldi; Serafin
Rigoletto (Rigoletto) with Stich-Randall, Björling, Wildermann, Dunn, Krainik (Giovanna); Rescigno
Tabarro (Michele) with Ribla, Bergonzi, Wildermann, Turner, Krainik (Lover); Rescigno
Ballo in Maschera (Renato) with Cerquetti, Björling, Turner, Foldi, Wildermann; Rescigno
1956 - (Opening Night) Fanciulla del West (Jack Rance) with Steber, Del Monaco; Mitropoulos
Andrea Chénier (Carlo Gérard) with Steber, Del Monaco, Lind; Buckley
Tosca (Scarpia) with Tebaldi, Björling, Badioli, William Mason (Shepherd Boy); Bartoletti/Kopp
1957 - (Opening Night) Otello (Iago) with Del Monaco, Tebaldi/Koehn, Chabay, Kramarich, Wildermann; Serafin
Pagliacci (Tonio, but not the Prologue) with Likova, Del Monaco, MacNeil, Caruso; Bartoletti; Rosing
Andrea Chénier (Carlo Gérard) with Tebaldi, Del Monaco, Krainik (Countess); Gavazzeni
Marriage of Figaro (Count) with Steber, Berry, Moffo, Simionato, Badioli; Solti
Adriana Lecourveur (Michonnet) with Tebaldi, di Stefano, Simionato, Badioli, Krainik (Mlle. Dangeville); Serafin
Tosca (Scarpia) with Steber, di Stefano/Björling, Badioli, William Mason (Shepherd Boy); Bartoletti
Don Carlo (Rodrigo) with Cerquetti, Sullivan/Björling, Christoff, Rankin, Wildermann; Solti
1958 - (Opening Night) Falstaff (Falstaff) with Tebaldi, Simionato, Canali, Moffo, MacNeil; Serafin
Gianni Schicchi (Schicchi) with Moffo, Misciano, Wildermann, Canali; Serafin
Pagliacci (Tonio) with Likova, di Stefano, MacNeil, Caruso; Serafin
Barber of Seville (Figaro) with Simionato, Misciano, Corena, Montarsolo, Canali; Schaenen
Rigoletto (Rigoletto) with Moffo, Björling, Wildermann, Steffan, Krainik (Giovanna); Sebastian
Aïda (Amonasro) with Rysanek, Björling, Simionato, Wildermann; Sebastian
1959 - Simon Boccanegro (Boccanegra) with Roberti, Tucker, Mazzoli, Maero, Krainik (Servant); Gavazzeni
Ballo in Maschera (Renato) with Nilsson, di Stefano, Kramarich, Stahlman; Bartoletti
1960 - (Opening NIght) Don Carlo (Rodrigo) with Roberti, Tucker, Christoff, Simionato, Mazzoli; Votto
Tosca (Scarpia) with Tebaldi, di Stefano, Pechner; Gavazzeni
Fedora (De Siriex) with Tebaldi, de Stefano, Scovotti; Matačič
Simon Boccanegra (Boccanegra) with Tebaldi, Tucker, Mazzoli, Cesari; Gavazzeni
1962 - Tosca (Scarpia) with Crespin, Zampieri, Corena; Cillario
Marriage of Figaro (Count) with Della Casa, Capecchi, Streich, Berganza, Corena; Maag
1963 - (Opening Night) Nabucco (Nabucco) with Mastilovic, Lo Morena, Christoff, Wildermann, Cossutta (Abdallo); Bartoletti
Otello (Iago) with Jurinac, Vickers/Uzunov, Vozza, Cossutta (Cassio), Wildermann; Bartoletti
1964 - Don Carlo (Rogrigo) with Gencer, Tucker, Ghiaurov, Cossotto/Bumbry, Marangoni; Bartoletti
Tosca (Scarpia) with Crespin, Tucker, Tadeo; Bartoletti
1965 - Simon Boccanegra (Boccanegra and Director) with Ligabue, Cioni, Ariè, Cesari; Bartoletti
1966 - Otello (Iago and Director) with Kabaivanska, Vickers/Craig, Roggero/Cvejic, Lorenzi, Wildermann; Sanzogno
1968 - Falstaff (Falstaff and Director) with Kabaivansak, Malagù, Dominguez, Mittelmann, Garaventa, Andreolli; Sanzogno, Zeffirelli (Production)
1969 - Don Giovanni (Giovanni and Director) with Watson, Ligabue, Evans, Kraus/Garaventa, Raskin; Leitner
Barber of Seville (Director) with Horne, Bruscantini, Garaventa, Evans, Vinco; Pritchard
1970 - Gianni Schicchi (Schicchi and Director) with Marimpietri, Garaventa, Washington, Andreolli; Bartoletti
1971 - Tosca (Scarpia and Director) with Martin/Kubiak, Bergonzi, Tajo, Giorgetti; Sanzogno
Barber of Seville (Director) with Horne, Prey, Garaventa, Malas, Ferrin, Zilio; Bartoletti
1972 - Ballo in Maschera (Director) with Arroyo, Tagliavini, Milnes, Baldani, Kozut, Ferrin, Voketaitis; Dohnányi
1973 - Tosca (Scarpia and Director) with Kubiak, Tagliavini, Tajo, Giorgetti; Bartoletti
1976 - Ballo in Maschera (Director) with Ricciarelli, Carreras, Bruson, Wolff, Wise, Casarini, Voketaitis; López-Cobos
Tosca (Director) with Neblett, Pavarotti, MacNeil, Tajo, Giorgetti; López-Cobos
1977 - Maria Callas Tribute (Speaker) with Neblett, Kuhlmann, Vickers, Little, Stilwell; Fox, Ross; Bartoletti, Fournet
Barber of Seville (Director) with Ewing, Stilwell, Alva, Desderi, Montarsolo, Hines; Bellugi
1979 - Andrea Chénier (Director) with Marton, Domingo, Bruson, Kuhlmann, Voketaitis, Gordon; Bartoletti
1982 - Tosca (Director) with Bumbry/Marton, Luchetti/Domingo, Wixell/Nimsgern, Tajo, Kavrakos, Cook; Rudel
-- Names which are links refer to my interviews elsewhere on this website.
This interview was held in a dressing room backstage in the Civic
Opera House in Chicago, on October 7, 1982. A small portion was included
in an article I wrote for the WNIB Program Guide one year later.
Portions were used (along with recordings) on WNIB the following year, and
again in 1987, 1988, 1993, 1997, 1998 and 2000. The transcription
was made and posted on this website in 2011.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.