A top tenor dies at 61

The Dominican tenor Francisco Casanova has died in Providence, RI, in the week of his 62nd birthday, his family has reported. While teaching in New York, he lived in RI with his wife Janice. A week before his death he entered the Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence.

Francisco came to fame replacing Luciano Pavarotti at a New York Philharmonic gala concert in 1996. He went on to appear at the Met and other major houses. His signature role in Vienna was Eleazar in Halévy’s La Juive.

Basia Jaworski wrote of his recording: ‘Francisco Casanova – after Tucker and Shicoff – in my opinion is perhaps the greatest Éléazar of our time. His robust tenor sounds tormented and passionate but also extremely lyrical. The Rachel, sung by Asmik Papian with sizzling passion, fits in perfectly with this. So beautiful, I have no words for it.’

 

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  • If I remember correctly, he was doing a Tosca with Carol Neblett and Sheryl Milnes. Carol decided to play a prank on him during the rehearsal. After she greets Caravadossi with kisses, Carol decided to play it up one step by kissing him repeatedly all over his face. When it came time for him to enter, he was gobsmacked and he couldn’t sing.
    He had such a lovely voice.

  • Mr. Casanova did indeed have one of THE most beautiful tenor voices of his generation. He was also a lovely man. I’m sorry his Met career did not continue beyond the late 90s. He was the cover or 2nd cast in the (then) new Trovatore and hit it out of the park. Rest in peace. You will be well remembered by many.

    • His Met career was from 2001-05. He last appeared for the Met in a Tosca with Millo and Morris.

      Probably the best opportunity he had there was a series of I vespri Siciliani in 2004 (Radvanovsky, Nucci, Ramey). He was in the first cast of the new Nabucco a little earlier, but the tenor role in that opera is easy to disappear in.

      • Sorry, Addison – I should have consulted the Met database first. All these years and hundreds of performances later, it all becomes a blur. What is left are impressions – good, bad, or forgettable. Mr. Casanova’s linger happily in my memory.

    • As a very longtime friend of Francisco, I am beyond deeply saddened. We were close friends and became buddies soon after I moved to West 73rd Street in Manhattan in the early 80’s. At that time he and Janice were living in a very tiny apartment at the top of the Ansonia. We often went to dinner and took long walks. We worked with me in my print shop on W 46th Street (Restaurant Row) as bookkeeper. I remember recording some of his arias on my Nokia. He sang “Ave Maria” at my wedding on the Lutheran Church just up the block from the shop. I managed to attend several of his performances at Weill Recital Hall and one or two of his classes in midtown Manhattan. Three and a half years ago I moved to Florida, but always managed to stay in touch. In fact just three months ago I was in the city and we met for a quick dinner and chat. At that time Francisco told me he had a growth in hime that proved to be cancerous but that the treatments he was getting were shrinking the growth. He never revealed to me the true state of this health and I am beside myself that he didn’t call me when got really sick. I have lost one of the most endearing, warm, talented and giving friends I will ever know. Francisco, I love you and miss you terribly. If anyone knows how I can contact Janice in RI, please write me at louis@cjpw.com. Thank you so very much and may the good Lord bless and keep him at the altar of God.

  • I knew Francisco personally. He sang a lot in Amsterdam. He was not only a great singer but also a wonderful human being.
    RIP Francisco, I will miss you dearly

    That’s what I wrote about his Eleazar:

    “Francisco Casanova – after Tucker and Shicoff – in my opinion is perhaps the greatest Éléazar of our time. His robust tenor sounds tormented and passionate but also extremely lyrical. The Rachel, sung by Asmik Papian with sizzling passion, fits in perfectly with this. So beautiful, I have no words for it.
    If you manage to get the CDs: buy them right away! Also, because the recording is almost complete. (House of Opera CD 426)”

    https://basiaconfuoco.com/2019/04/01/la-juive-discography/

    • Eléazar: Francisco Casanova
      Rachel: Hasmik Papian
      Princess Eudoxie: Olga Makarina
      Léopold: Jean-Luc Viala
      Cardinal Brogni: Paul Plishka
      Dallas Symphony Chorus
      Opera Orchestra of New York
      Eve Queler, conductor
      Live performance, 13 April 1999
      House of Opera (houseofopera.com)
      CD 426 (3 CDs)

  • Back in the Dominican Republic, Francisco is the one who got me into opera, and for that I will be forever grateful. I don’t sing anymore, but it has been a great journey, and it wouldn’t have been possible without his encouragement and help. Sometimes he believed more in my talent than myself. He was a great person, and a wonderful artist.

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