Tito Gobbi



by Alice Lechner
July 30, 2023
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Tito Gobbi was born on October 24th, 1913, in Bassano del Grappa, a town in the Veneto region of Italy. He grew up in a musically-inclined family, and his parents recognized his early talents and interest in singing. As a child, he received encouragement and support from his family to pursue his passion for music. At the age of 16, he enrolled at the Arrigo Boito Conservatory in Parma, where he studied singing under the guidance of M° Emilio Ghirardini. During his time at the conservatory, he refined his vocal technique and developed the skills that would later make him one of the most prominent baritones in the opera world.

Gobbi’s early education and training laid a solid foundation for his future career. He gained valuable experience performing in small regional theaters before making his debut in 1935 as Count Rodolfo in Bellini’s La Sonnambula at the Teatro Maruccelli in Livorno. His big breakthrough came in 1942 when he portrayed Rigoletto at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, a performance that marked a significant turning point in his career and established him as a major operatic figure.

In 1942, he debuted at the house in the role of Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore conducted by Tullio Serafin. It was under Serafin’s guidance and direction that the young Gobbi prepared many roles, including some that would become crucial to his later career; these included Scarpia, Rigoletto, and Simon Boccanegra. He also appeared at the Rome Opera from 1938 onward in stage productions such as singing the role of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly under conductor Victor de Sabata. Other significant Italian venues in these pre-war years included La Fenice in Venice where, in 1941 he appeared as Marcello in La bohème and in 1942 as Sharpless. At the Teatro Communale in Florence in 1941 he sang the role of Hidraot in Gluck’s Armide. In Rome, in 1942 he performed his first Falstaff under de Sabata. Also, he was the protagonist in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck.

Gobbi caught the attention of renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini, who invited him to perform in a production of Verdi’s Falstaff at the Salzburg Festival in 1948. This collaboration with Toscanini further elevated Gobbi’s reputation and opened doors to international opportunities. In the early years of his career, Gobbi began expanding his repertoire, taking on new roles in various Italian operas. His rich, expressive voice and acting abilities made him particularly well-suited for dramatic characters like Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca and Iago in Verdi’s Otello. With the support of Arturo Toscanini and other prominent figures in the opera world, Gobbi started to perform at major international opera houses and festivals. He made appearances in London, New York, Buenos Aires, Vienna, and other important musical centers, earning praise from audiences and critics alike. One of the hallmarks of Gobbi’s early career was his remarkable acting ability. He brought a theatrical presence to his performances, fully embodying the characters he portrayed on stage.

Gobbi’s international career blossomed after World War II, with appearances in 1948 at the San Francisco Opera. He performed for the first time at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1950 and sang with the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 1954 until 1974. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1956 as Scarpia in Tosca

One of the most notable collaborations in Gobbi’s career was with the legendary soprano Maria Callas. They appeared together in numerous performances and recordings, creating some of the most memorable interpretations of opera characters. Gobbi and Callas performed together in various opera productions during the 1950s, particularly at the renowned Teatro alla Scala in Milan. They appeared in operas such as Verdi’s Tosca, Il Trovatore, and Rigoletto, as well as in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

According to Gobbi, he sang Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca “nearly a thousand times”. One significant production was the “event of worldwide interest” (as Gobbi himself describes it), Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London in February 1964. Maria Callas sang the title role, conducted by Carlo Felice Cillario. Act 2 of the production was broadcast live on British television on February 9th, 1964, which must be one of the most acclaimed dramatic interpretations of all recorded operatic repertoire.

Tito Gobbi had a notable career in films, particularly in opera film adaptations. One of Gobbi’s most famous film appearances was in the 1956 film adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca. Directed by Carmine Gallone, the film starred Tito Gobbi as Baron Scarpia, alongside other opera stars such as Franca Duval (Tosca) and Gino Sinimberghi (Cavaradossi). Gobbi’s portrayal of Scarpia was praised for its intensity and dramatic depth. Gobbi also starred in the 1956 film adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Directed by Carmine Gallone, the film featured Gobbi in the title role, performing alongside Carla Del Poggio (Gilda) and Delia Rigal (Maddalena). There was also the popular 1949 British drama set in wartime Italy, The Glass Mountain, which made him known to a wide public. Also, in 1950, he played himself, in the British film Soho Conspiracy. By the time of his death, Gobbi had appeared in some 25 films, in both singing and speaking parts. 

In the later years of his career, Tito Gobbi transitioned from performing as an opera singer to working as a stage director, a notable example being the December, 1965 production of Verdi’s SimonBoccanegra at Covent Garden. Overall, between 1965 and 1982, he directed productions of about ten different operas, the largest number of which were of Tosca. Others included Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Otello , and Gianni Schicchi.

Tito Gobbi passed away on March 5th, 1984, at the age of 70. He died in his hometown of Rome, Italy.


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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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