At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Antonino Votto – conductor

Outstanding operatic conductor made recordings with Callas


Antonino Votto was regarded as one of the finest conductors of his era
Antonino Votto was regarded as one of the finest
conductors of his era
Operatic conductor Antonino Votto was born on this day in 1896 in Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna.

He became famous in the 1950s because he conducted the orchestra for the acclaimed recordings made by soprano Maria Callas for EMI.

Votto was also considered one of the leading operatic conductors of his time on account of his performances at La Scala in Milan, where he worked regularly for nearly 20 years.

After Votto had attended the Naples conservatory for his music studies he went to work at La Scala, where he became an assistant conductor to Arturo Toscanini.

He made his official debut there in 1923, leading a performance of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.

Votto went on to build a reputation as one of the most outstanding conductors of Italian opera, appearing at many other operatic venues in Italy and abroad.

Votto taught at the Giuseppe Verdi conservatory in Milan
Votto taught at the Giuseppe Verdi
conservatory in Milan
In 1941 he began teaching at the Giuseppe Verdi conservatory in Milan as the war limited operatic activity in Italy and in most parts of Europe.

One of his students was the present day Italian orchestra conductor, Ricardo Muti.

Recordings of Votto conducting opera live in the theatre were a great success. He conducted Bellini’s Norma in 1955 with Callas at La Scala and La Sonnambula in 1957 with Callas in Cologne. These are both considered to be great performances.

Votto also made a series of highly successful studio recordings in the 1950s with Callas, based on productions that had been staged at La Scala. Their collaborations for EMI on Puccini’s La Bohème and Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera in 1956 and Bellini’s La Sonnambula in 1957 were enthusiastically received by both the critics and the public.

Votto made his debut at Covent Garden in 1924 with performances of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci.

His American debut came in 1960 when he appeared at the Chicago Opera House conducting Verdi’s Aida and Don Carlo.

Votto continued conducting at La Scala until 1967 and died in Milan in 1985.

The bronze statue of Ranuccio II Farnese by Francesco Mochi is a feature of Piazza Cavalli in Piacenza
The bronze statue of Ranuccio II Farnese by Francesco
Mochi is a feature of Piazza Cavalli in Piacenza
Travel tip:

Piacenza, where Votto was born, is a city in the Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy. The main square is named Piazza Cavalli because of its two bronze equestrian monuments featuring Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and his son Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma, who succeeded him. The statues are masterpieces by the sculptor Francesco Mochi.

Teatro alla Scala is Italy's most prestigious opera house
Teatro alla Scala is Italy's most prestigious opera house
Travel tip:

Teatro alla Scala, where Votto conducted for 20 years, is in Piazza della Scala in the centre of Milan across the road from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, an elegant arcade lined with cafes, shops and restaurants. It was built to link Piazza della Scala with Piazza del Duomo, Milan’s cathedral square. La Scala has a fascinating museum that displays costumes and memorabilia from the history of opera. The entrance is in Largo Ghiringhelli, just off Piazza della Scala. It is open every day except the Italian Bank Holidays and the days when it is closed in December. Opening hours are from 9.00 to 12.30 and 1.30 to 5.30 pm.



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