The great Tito del Bianco has died in Trieste

The great Tito del Bianco has died in Trieste


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2020

An Italian tenor with the most evocative name, del Bianco made his New York debut in 1965 in Rossini’s Stabat Mater by Rossini conducted by Thomas Schippers.

He was a notable Otello all over the world and often appeared in Wagnerian roles and in Lieder recitals.

He retired in 1982 and was 88 at his death on December 8, in his native town of Trieste.



  • AngloGerman says:

    ‘Rossini’s Stabat Mater by Rossini’ – who would have guessed…

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Good one, AG!
      On a serious note, I am sad at hearing of Signor del Bianco’s passing. I was previously unaware of him, but he sings well on this clip, with real metal in his voice, and musical commitment too.
      Thankfully, he lived a long life in service to his art.
      R.I.P., Maestro.
      (PS – any additional comment from you, Edgar Self?)

      • Edgar Self says:

        I’d never heard of Tito del Bianco or noticed his name in a cast list, Greg. His voice impresses me: clear, declamatory, fair diction, unstrangulated top, and the metal you spoke of that I like in Bjoerling.

        But I have problems with Otello, who is such a maniipulatable sap, don’t like the story, and haven’t heard tenors who give me what i want, certainly not Martinelli. Francesco Merli, who recorded excerpts with Claudia Muzio; Melchior, Del Monaco, Ramon Vinay disappoint or I don’t care for their voices in the role. Roberto Alagno 20 years ago came close; otherwise it’s back to Tamagno and Caruso. Full lconfession: I like Rossini’s “Otello” better than Shakespeare’s or Verdi’s.

        I do like Hans Hotter and tito Gobbi as Iago. A friend told Verdi he’d found a perfect Iago and named him. “Oh, yes,” Verdi agreed, “and also off the stage.”

        An Italian Wiki page for Del Bianco mentioned a Pacini opera role I’d like to hear.

        • Greg Bottini says:

          Well, of course Caruso and Tamagno, Edgar. They’re the gold standard. I agree with you, too, re: Martinelli.
          But I consider Vinay’s performance with Toscanini one of the all-time great Verdi performances.
          And as a whole, I think that Toscanini’s “Otello” blows the rest of them out of the water.
          You’re absolutely right about the story; even way back when I first read “Othello” in college, I thought that the guy must be an idiot; as you say – “a manipulatable sap”. But most of Shakespeare’s stories are absurd – it’s the poetry that is timeless.
          I must disagree with you about Del Monaco. Subtle; no. Glorious: yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Not as good in this role as Vinay, but that voice….

  • Martin Spencer says:

    Terrific tenor and bona fide Otello. Thanks for recognition of this artist!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Del Monaco was prepotent and had power aplenty, I grant him that, Greg, but it’s unrelenting. I tire, and weakly protest, “Yes, but who dnies it?” He even sang Wagnerperhaps Sigfrido or Sigmondo, like Domingo or even Hampsn in the latter.

    Vinay also sang and recorded Otello with Furtwaengler in Salzburg after the War, but his voice isn’t for me, either as tenor or baritonel. I may not have heard Toscanini’s “Otello” with the younger Vinay; I think I’d remember it if I did. I’l try to hear it The opening storm is grand.

    ” Strange that Del Bianco eluded our radars, as he had a considerable career. I think Tibbett, whom you like, also was a good Iago, and a great Boccanegra with Rose Bampton and even, yes, Martinelli, who had his moments. It was “Mal reggendo all’ aspro assalto” from “Il Trovatore”with Louise Homer that stupended me. As Caruso remarked, all you need for Trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world. But Martinelli had long life and career, , red hair turning to a white halo, and adorned many later Met galas after he retired, like Sayao, Richard Crooks, and Albanesi.

    Nan Merriman recorded Rossini’s Desdemona’s willow song with harp accompaniment, very beautiful. Inthe middle, a glass breaks, and through a window we hear a passing gondolier singing Dante’s “The greatest sorrow is remembrance of past joy. Rossini’s friends protested. “Gondoliers don’t sing Dante; they sing Petrarca.” “MY gondoliers sing Dante.” Rossini countered firmly. He was a pistola, certo.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Del Monaco’s voice was truly a force of nature – it could not be controlled by anyone, including himself. If you like sitting out in the pouring rain and listening to the thunder and watching the lightning flash – well, you get the idea.
      Furtwangler’s Otello is fascinating, but instead of Toscanini’s “passione”, Furtwangler sees the opera in terms of “oscurita”. I believe Toscanini came much closer to Verdi’s vision. (Vinay sang better for Toscanini, too.)
      But we mere mortals split hairs with singers like Tibbett and Martinelli. Both were superb artists. Re: Martinelli – his art, IMHO, lay more comfortably (and beautifully) with the modernist/verismist Puccini than they did with the end-of-era classicist Verdi.
      In reply to your other comment: yes, del Bianco literally does mean “of (or with, or about, or pertaining to) the White”. I don’t know why NL finds it particularly evocative, unless he might be referring to the similarity with Toti Dal Monte’s name.
      As an aside, my own name, Bottini, means “many small (wine-)casks”. It’s appropriate….

  • Edgar Self says:

    But Greg, something bothers me. Norman calls Del Bianco the tenor with the most evocative name. Why? It just means “of the White” doesn’t it? What am I missing?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Better Bottini than Botticelli, Greg,0 yes, this occurred to me the other day. Also I’ve not seen Toti del Monte’s name in a day or two.

    Records can serve ill in the case of Julius Patzak, Melchior, Martinelli, Cortot, and others now known or remembered for reordings of their very late careers. Yet Magda Olvera, Hugues Cuenod, Casals and others sang and played well, even transfiingly, to the very end. But they also need to be heard in their youth and prime, and judged by their best, as we all hope to be judged.

    What a pleasure to muse over these thingsto speak and write the grand sonorous names for the sheer pleasure of seeing and hearing them. But back to our many little wine bottl, to comfor us with flagons and apples, as in the Song of Songs.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Ah, Magda Olivero!
      A simply gorgeous voice, a true miracle of music, and one of my all-time favorite singers. She was a golden age wonder – and I’m not just referring to her late-life singing career!

  • a says:

    Amen to that, Greg. I can’t take my ears off Magda Olivero when she sings,– Adriana Lecouvreur (sp?), Floria Tosca, anything.