16 March 2020

Enrico Tamberlik – tenor

Imposing king of the high C sharp


At the height of his career, Enrico Tamberlik was Italy's most admired tenore robusto
At the height of his career, Enrico Tamberlik was
Italy's most admired tenore robusto
Opera singer Enrico Tamberlik, who is remembered for the quality of his remarkable high notes, was born on this day in 1820 in Rome.

At the height of his career, Tamberlik, whose name is also sometimes spelt Tamberlick, sang regularly at the Royal Opera House in London and in St Petersburg, Paris and America.

The singer is believed to have been of Romanian descent but was born in Italy and did all his vocal training in Naples, Bologna and Milan.

At the age of 17 Tamberlik made his debut in a concert and then made his first appearance on the operatic stage as Gennaro in Lucrezia Borgia by Gaetano Donizetti at the Teatro Apollo in Rome.

In 1841 he appeared under the name Enrico Danieli at the Teatro Fondo in Naples as Tybalt in I Capuleti e I Montecchi by Vincenzo Bellini.

A year later he made his debut at Teatro San Carlo in Naples under the name Enrico Tamberlik, which he used from then onwards.

Tamberlik made his London debut as Masaniello in Louis Auber’s La Muettte de Portici at Covent Garden in 1850.

Enrico Tamberlik sang at the leading opera houses of the world in a career spanning 45 years
Enrico Tamberlik sang at the leading opera houses
of the world in a career spanning 45 years
In St Petersburg in 1862 in the premiere performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s La forza del destino, he appeared as Don Alvaro, a role that had been written specially for him.

He went on to sing in Moscow, Paris, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona with his extensive repertoire, which included all the leading tenor roles of the time.

Tamberlik was especially praised for the resonance and power of his high C sharp.  He succeeded Gaetano Fraschini as Italy’s leading ‘tenore robusto’.

He was said to have had an imposing appearance that helped him become an exciting interpreter of dramatic roles.

His last singing engagement in London was at Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1877. After touring Spain in 1881 he retired from the operatic stage. Tamberlik died in Paris three days before his 69th birthday.

The tenor Francesco Tamagno, whose career overlapped with that of Tamberlik, was regarded as his foremost successor. Tamagno made recordings in Italy in 1903 for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company and critics believe an echo of Tamberlik’s resonant voice and style has been preserved in them.


The Teatro Apollo in Rome as it would have looked when Tamberlik was enjoying peak popularity
The Teatro Apollo in Rome as it would have looked
when Tamberlik was enjoying peak popularity
Travel tip:

The Teatro Apollo in Rome, where Tamberlik made his first appearance in an opera, was created from a medieval tower, the Torre dell’Annona, which had once acted as a prison. It became the Teatro Tordinona in the 17th century and then the Teatro Apollo in the late 18th century. The biggest theatre in Rome, it hosted the premieres of two Verdi operas but was demolished in 1888 when the embankments of the Tiber were built. A white marble fountain remains as a memorial marking the sport where the theatre once stood.

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, just around the corner from Piazza Plebiscito, remains an important opera house
The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, just around the corner
from Piazza Plebiscito, remains an important opera house
Travel tip:

Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, where Tamberlik first appeared under his own name, is the oldest opera house in the world, having opened in 1737, way ahead of La Scala in Milan and La Fenice in Venice. Built in Via San Carlo close to Piazza Plebiscito, the main square in Naples, Teatro di San Carlo quickly became one of the most important opera houses in Europe, renowned for its excellent productions. The theatre was designed by Giovanni Antonio Medrano for the Bourbon King of Naples, Charles I, and took just eight months to build. Both Donizetti and Rossini served as artistic directors at San Carlo and the world premieres of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto were performed there.


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