Death of opera’s most visceral tenor

Death of opera’s most visceral tenor


norman lebrecht

July 28, 2021

The Rome Opera chorus has reported the death today of Giuseppe Giacomini, a dramatic tenor whom many thought outclassed the other more famous three. His death has also been announced by one of his former agents.

Bepi was 80 and had been slowed by a stroke.

The Verdi Otello he recorded in 1991 with Margaret Price as Desdemona is surely the most powerful of the last half-century.

Neither typically handsome nor imposing on stage, he was highly rated in La Scala, Milan and Vienna, but not in New York.


  • Patricia Greenan says:

    I had the good fortune to know Giuseppe Giacomini over many years and to hear him in Otello, Il Trovatore, la Forza del Destino, Don Carlos, Norma, cavalleria Rusticana, Tosca, La fanciulla del West, Turandot. At his best in my opinion he was the outstanding tenor of his generation. He was a shy person who never looked for publicity and had a very happy private life with family and longstanding friends. My work as his agent in the UK was fulfilling in every way. He will be missed

    • Carlo says:

      He was really great!

    • AndrewB says:

      Indeed he will be missed for his dramatic tenor voice with its mixture of baritonal qualities and ringing tenor top notes. We can hear from the many of video clips that he maintained his voice very well over the years.
      Also he was such a reliable performer. Not for him the strings of cancelations which seem to have become more and more a part of the operatic world over the last decade or so. If you booked to hear Giacomini he would appear and the opera house management would know that they had a show.

    • Mauricio Fernandez says:

      You are completely right and I regret we never found an opportunity of bringing him to the Concertgebouw in de Matinee concert series.

  • John Kelly says:

    A wonderful singer, try this…..

    RIP, there’s nobody around who can sing like this any more. And I’m including Mr Kaufmann.

    • Noelle G. says:

      A wonderful singer indeed, but why the need to compare with “Mr. Kaufmann”, just for the pleasure of being mean? I saw Jonas Kaufmann performing Andrea Chenier two years ago in Sydney, and he was phenomenal! This permanent “Kaufmann bashing” is so paltry…

      • John Kelly says:

        No, I also have seen and enjoyed Kaufmann many times and he is generally excellent and occasionally superb. My point was to anticipate the Kaufmann fanatics suggesting that he is one singer before the public who IS as wonderful as Giacomini. He isn’t and neither is anyone else. Incidentally, one singer to keep an eye on is Stefano LaColla………….

  • AngloGerman says:

    Another fantastic Italian voice sorely missed. RIP.

  • In bocca al lupo says:

    What a phenomenal talent. Once had the privilege of hearing him live in dress reh of Otello in Brussels with Barbara Frittoli, absolutely phenomenal singing, visceral doesn’t even come close then I am not sure what would better describe him, phenomenally talented, modest, a great that’s for sure.

  • Alejandro Berger says:

    Loved his voice. Was lucky to meet him in person in Egypt with his lovely family. He was a great husband, father, and human being. I am sure they needed a legendary singer in heaven.

  • PB says:

    Had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him on only one occasion. Phenomenal! Yet he was such a lovely colleague and seemed genuinely shy……..

  • SMH says:

    Once more, Lebrecht is overstates for clicks and comments. Hyperbole galore. If the tenor falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Do you object to a classical music site reporting on the death of a major singer? If so, I’m sure that there are many sites devoted to sports where you won’t find this dreadful hyperbole regarding music!

  • CRogers says:

    Phenomenal singer. I heard him sing mass at a catholic church when he was on tour with Royal Opera in Manchester. His voice flooded the church. A big crowd waited for him outside to huge applause when he finally emerged. Great memories!

  • Ernest says:

    Truly one of the greats. A shame that he recorded so little. I hope more of his live recordings will emerge. RIP Bepi!

  • Uncle Sam says:

    One of his concert show-stoppers that were (deservedly, IMHO!) bringing down the house (in this case – Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 1989):

  • Concerned Opera Buff says:

    Milnes and Giacomini, listen and weep. That is the exciting sound that used to be the gold standard.

  • Gaddo says:

    Davvero il più grande. Io ho avuto il privilegio di ascoltarlo 5 volte in vita mia. Un fenomeno della natura, voce di incredibile potenza. Insostituibile.

  • Jim says:

    Never followed him much but have seen 2 magnificent videos of him singing the final duet from Andrea Chenier with Eva Marton and duet from Otello with Maria Chiara. Breathtaking!! RIP.