Baritone Rolando Panerai Has Died At Age 94

By: Oct. 31, 2019
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Baritone Rolando Panerai Has Died At Age 94

The San Francisco Opera announced the recent passing of Rolando Panerai, a baritone best known for his vast Italian repertory and his sensational recordings alongside such legends as Maria Callas.

Panerai died on October 22nd 2019 at the age of 95, five days after his 95th birthday.

Panerai made his U.S. debut there in San Francisco in 1958, starring as Figaro first in Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," then in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," pictured here.

That same season, he took on a third role as Marcello in Puccini's "La Bohème," and he toured with the company to Los Angeles and San Diego.

Panerai had more than 150 operas in his repertoire, but became best-known for comic roles: Ford in Verdi's Falstaff (his signature role), Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and both Guglielmo and Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, both Belcore and Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, and Malatesta and the title role in Don Pasquale. He was an exponent of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi for many years, singing the role in Genoa as late as 2011, at the age of 87. He also performed more recent operas, such as the title role of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, operas by Sergei Prokofiev and Gian Carlo Menotti, and several world premieres. He appeared internationally, including at the Paris Opera, the Royal Opera House in London, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Oper Frankfurt, and at the Salzburg Festival and Glyndebourne Festival. Between 1955 and 1972, he regularly appeared at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. He was a regular guest at the Vienna State Opera, where he first appeared in 1956 as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor in a performance from La Scala with Maria Callas in the title role. His last performance there was as Dulcamara in 1998.

Panerai often partnered in recordings as on stage with Maria Callas and Giuseppe Di Stefano, as in Il trovatore, Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana with him as Alfredo, Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (singing Silvio), Bellini's I puritani and Puccini's La bohème. He also recorded a notable Sharpless alongside Renata Scotto and Carlo Bergonzi, and Germont alongside Beverly Sills and Nicolai Gedda. He played Ford in three different recordings of Falstaff, with three different singers of the title role (Tito Gobbi, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Giuseppe Taddei), the latter on video, with Herbert von Karajan conducting. He also recorded the title role. He sang Wagner in Italian translation, as Amfortas in a 1950 recorded performance of Parsifal with Callas as Kundry and Boris Christoff as Gurnemanz. He appeared on video recordings as Ford, Rossini's Figaro, Rigoletto and Silvio, and in concert in a Bolshoi Opera Night.


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