Death of legendary Italian baritone, 95

Death of legendary Italian baritone, 95


norman lebrecht

October 23, 2019

Reports are coming in of the passing of Rolando Panerai, one of the last singer of the golden age, a frequent partner of Callas and Di Stefano.

He made his debut in Naples in 1947 and in La Scala four years later, dominating such roles as Rigoletto, Giorgio Germont and Amonasro. He mastered more than 150 roles and last appeared, aged 87, as Gianni Schicchi in Genova.

He celebrated his 95th birthday last week.


  • kicky says:

    so his last appearance is still to come …?

  • Olassus says:

    He was Callas’s Amfortas in 1950 and Mehta’s Germont in 2000. Astonishing.

  • Jack says:

    A strong Marcello in the classic Boheme recording with Karajan, Freni, Harwood and Pavarotti.

    • Olassus says:

      … and even better in the classic live Bohème recording with Karajan, Freni, Güden and Raimondi — in which Karajan famously loses control!

      Wien, Nov. 9, 1963, on RCA Red Seal

      • Nik says:

        Yes, what a great recording. Is this still available from RCA? There is a DVD of it on DG.
        I actually picked it up on CD by pure luck in Italy some time in the early 1990s. It was one of those free gift CDs that come attached to a magazine. I don’t think it was available on any mainstream label at that time.

      • Jack says:

        Fair enough, but I’ll take Pavarotti over Gianni Raimondi any day.

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    Oh goodness. One of my favorite singers of all time. He had the most relaxed, smooth, round, effortless, legato technique of anyone. And such sincere, spontaneous delivery. Listen to this:

    And this:

    And WATCH this:

  • Vaquero357 says:

    And an unforgettable Germont in Beverly Sills’s recording of La Traviata.

    He does not depart this earth owning his audience anything.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    My God, Rolando Panerai!
    How many records was he on which I grew up with, listened to, and loved!
    A central singer in the late lamented Italian baritone tradition. He graced every role he sang. His technique, voice and musical instincts were (now, sadly) legendary. And he had a long career because he took care of his voice over the years.
    But he lived a long life, so rather than mourning we should be happy that he was with us for so long.
    Ave, dear Rolando. In your next life, whenever you get to wherever you’re going, show ’em how its done.