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Garibaldi-Meucci Museum to Celebrate Ezio Pinza's Life, 11/17

On Sunday, November 17 at 2 p.m., Nick Dowen will present an hour-long program on the life of opera great Ezio Pinza. Dowen, who has been collecting records since he was 13 years old, will share some of his thousands of recordings in a powerpoint presentation about the life of one of the most prolific singers in the history of music. A bass with a rich, smooth and sonorous voice, Pinza spent 22 seasons at New York's Metropolitan Opera, appearing in more than 750 performances of 50 operas. A popular recording star, Pinza went on to appear on Broadway, in Hollywood movies, and on television in his own series and daytime variety shows that were popular in the 1950s.

Born in Rome in 1892, Pinza grew up on Italy's east coast in Ravenna. He studied singing at Bologna's Conservatorio Martini, making his operatic debut in 1914. After serving four years in World War I, he resumed his operatic career in Rome in 1919, and made his debut at Italy's foremost opera house, La Scala, in Milan, in February 1922. There, under the direction of Arturo Toscanini, Pinza's career blossomed, and he became a favorite of both critics and audiences. Though he was unable to sight-read a musical score, Pinza would listen to his part played on the piano and then sing it accurately.

In November 1926 Pinza first performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera.?He later appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and was invited to sing at the Salzburg Festival. Also during the 1920s and '30s, Pinza recorded extensively for HMV and the Victor Talking Machine Company. These 78-rpm discs are prized by music critics and general listeners alike for the exceptional beauty of voice and the fine musicianship that Pinza displays on them.

When Pinza retired from the Met in 1948, he embarked on a second career in Broadway musicals. He originated the role of French Planter Emil de Becque in "South Pacific" where his performance of the hit song "Some Enchanted Evening" made him a matinée idol and a national celebrity. In 1950, he received a Tony Award for best lead actor in a musical.

In 1953, Pinza appeared in "Bonino," a short-lived NBC-TV situation comedy as a recently widowed Italian-American opera singer trying to rear six children. In 1954, he appeared again on Broadway in "Fanny" opposite Florence Henderson. Pinza died on May 9, 1957, of a stroke at the age of 64 in Stamford, Connecticut. His funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Admission of $10, $5 for members includes a light reception.

The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum was the home of Antonio Meucci, the true inventor of the telephone, and a refuge to Giuseppe Garibaldi, the legendary hero who championed the unification of Italy. For over 50 years the museum has fulfilled its mission to preserve the legacies of these great men, and to promote understanding of the Italian-American heritage through cultural, artistic and educational programs and classes. The historic Italian landmark on Staten Island, the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is owned by the Sons of Italy Foundation and administered by the NYSOSIA?GMM?Board of Commissioners.

Regular museum hours are 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 per person, members and children under 10 are free. Call ahead for groups of 10 or more. The first floor of the museum is wheelchair accessible, but the restroom is on the second floor. At press time, program funding has been provided through the Order Sons of Italy in America; by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Richmond County Savings Foundation; Northfield Bank Foundation; Coccia Foundation; JP Morgan Chase Regrant in partnership with the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI); The Staten Island Foundation; The Lois and Richard Nicotra Foundation and by grants allocated by New York City Council members Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo.

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