27 July 2016

Mario Del Monaco – tenor

Singer became famous for his interpretations of Otello

Mario del Monaco, dressed for his most famous role as Otello in Verdi's opera of the same name
Mario Del Monaco, dressed for his most famous
role as Otello in Verdi's opera of the same name
Opera singer Mario Del Monaco, who was renowned for the amazing power of his voice, was born on this day in 1915 in Florence.

His family were musical and as a child he studied the violin but he developed a passion for singing as well.

He studied at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro, where he first met and sang with the soprano Renata Tebaldi, who was to partner him regularly later in his career.

Del Monaco made a big impact with his debut performance as Lieutenant Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madam Butterfly in Milan in 1940.

He became popular with the audience at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the 1950s, making many appearances in dramatic Verdi roles.

He was one of the four Italian tenors at their peak in the 1950s and 1960s, sharing the limelight with Giuseppe Di Stefano, Carlo Bergonzi and Franco Corelli.

Del Monaco became famous for his interpretation of the title role in Verdi’s Otello, which, it is estimated, he sang hundreds of times.

Listen to the voice of Mario Del Monaco

He started making recordings for HMV in 1948 in Milan and was later partnered by Renata Tebaldi in a series of Verdi and Puccini operas recorded for Decca.

Del Monaco retired from the stage in 1975 and spent his last years living in a villa near Treviso in the Veneto with his wife, Rina, a former singer.

He died in Mestre, near Venice, in 1982 at the age of 67, having been in poor health since sustaining serious injuries in a road accident several years previously.  He was buried in Pesaro, where he grew up.  At his own request, he was laid to rest dressed in his favourite Otello costume.

Giancarlo Del Monaco, one of his two sons, followed him into opera as a director, making his debut in Siracusa in 1964 with a production in which his father starred, and going on to work at some of the world's top opera houses, including La Scala in Milan and the Met.

Travel tip:

Pesaro, where Del Monaco grew up and studied at the Rossini Conservatory, is a beautiful, traditional seaside resort on the Adriatic coast, renowned for its sandy beach. Rossini’s birthplace, at Via Rossini 34, is now a museum dedicated to the composer and there is also a theatre named after him. A Rossini opera festival is held in Pesaro every summer.

The statue of Mario del Monaco in Piazza Borsa in Treviso
The statue of Mario Del Monaco
in Piazza Borsa in Treviso
Travel tip:

Treviso’s municipal theatre in Corso del Popolo was renamed Teatro Comunale Mario Del Monaco after the tenor and operatic costumes he wore are on display there. Close by in Piazza Borsa there is a bronze statue showing him in costume.

More reading:

How Italy mourned the death of Giuseppe Verdi

The genius of Giacomo Puccini

Renata Tebaldi: the voice of an angel

(Photo of Mario Del Monaco as Otello by MDM 1915 CC BY-SA 4.0)


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