A great Italian tenor has died

Renato Cioni, who sang Cavaradossi in Tosca at Covent Garden opposite Callas and Gobbi, has died aged 84.

 

cioni callas

A fisherman’s son from the isle of Elba, Cioni made his debut as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, a role he later recorded with Joan Sutherland. At the Met, he sang in Pollione with Sutherland and Marilyn Horne.

May he rest in peace.

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  • I do not recall Cioni singing Pollione at the Met at all. The fabled Sutherland-Horne performances had Bergonzi as Pollione with John Alexander as cover. Of course, it was long ago and my memory may be tricking me, but as far as Alexander is concerned. The first cast Pollione was definitely Bergonzi.

  • According to the official Metropolitan Opera Database, Cioni sang Pollione with the Met six times, but only once in the house, at his debut on April 18th, 1970. The other performances with the Met were on tour in April and May of 1970 in Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Detroit.

  • I was at that Norma performance-Sutherland’s first at the Met’sand Horne’s Met debut, and ,yes, Bergonzi was the tenor. One of those legendary nights-and an indication of that was that IMO Bergonzi(!) was the weak link, given the 2 ladies and Siepi as Oroveso. So it was not Cioni, and I don’t think I ever heard him live.

    But I enjoyed his recordings-particularly the two with Sutherland, which put his name on the map. I remember his Duke in Rigoletto.

    Given the great tenors in his era he was not as well known, but a voice like that today would be a major career-given the generally mediocre tenors available, and the better ones who are praised too effusively without any real historical perspective.

  • Cioni first sang Cavaradossi opposite Callas, in Zeffirelli’s production, at Covent Garden in January/February 1964. The following year (February), they reunited in order to take that production to Paris. In doing so, Cioni had to defect from a Lucia with Sutherland in Miami, FL. The Floridians were able to console themselves with the replacement Edgardo, another Italian, making his US debut: Luciano Pavarotti.

  • In addition to his 6 Met NORMAs with Sutherland in 1970 (only 1 actually in the House, the others in tour cities) Cioni appeared at the Met in July 1968 under the auspices of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma when they gave a very interesting tournee in New York. I heard Cioni sing Jacopo Foscari in Verdi’s I DUE FOSCARI opposite the old Doge of Mario Zanasi and the Lucrezia of Luisa Maragliano. The Romans also brought Rossini’s OTELLO (quite an exotic rarity in 1968) with Virginia Zeani, and perhaps most interesting, an all-Italian LE NOZZE DI FIGARO featuring Rolando Panerai as Figaro, Ilva Ligabue as the Countess, Bianca Maria Casoni as Cherubino, Graziella Sciutti as Susanna and Tito Gobbi as the Count. Carlo Maria Giulini conducted and the production was by Luchino Visconti.

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