Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fernando De Lucia (Tenor) (Naples 1860 – Naples 1925)

He studied at the Naples Music Conservatory with Vincenzo Lombardi and Beniamino Carelli. He made his debut at the Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, as Gounod's Faust in 1885. Over the next two or three years he sang in Spain, South America and in the smaller Italian opera houses, in Linda di Chamounix, Dinorah, L'elisir d'amore, Fra Diavolo and La sonnambula. While in Madrid he was hired by Augustus Harris and Herman Klein for his first London appearances in the Drury Lane season of 1887; but although Klein liked his Alfredo, he went comparatively unnoticed due to the British debut of the charismatic tenor Jean de Reszke. His Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia (a role later closely associated with him) was described as "truly detestable" by The Times newspaper. On October 31, 1891, De Lucia took part in the world premiere of L'amico Fritz, singing the role of Fritz Kobus opposite the French diva Emma Calvé. The opera had been composed by the up-and-coming musician Pietro Mascagni and its debut occurred in Rome at the Costanzi Theatre. For a singer later upheld (by some) as the rarified model of bel canto style the situation was originally quite otherwise; De Lucia was, in fact, famous during his career not as a bel canto stylist, but as a performer of Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo's earthy, melodramatic verismo characters. De Lucia capitalized on Europe's Mascagni craze of the early 1890s. Accordingly, in November 1892, he was engaged by the Florence opera house to create the tenor lead in Mascagni's third opera, I Rantzau. Appearing with him in the work was the virtuoso baritone Mattia Battistini. De Lucia's verismo-opera career continued apace with the first English performance (on 19 May 1893, with Enrico Bevignani conducting), of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, opposite Nellie Melba and Mario Ancona. De Lucia sang the part of Canio, which had been created a year earlier in Milan by Fiorello Giraud. Klein describes an audience breathless with excitement, and De Lucia's burning intensity in the role as a triumph of realism. Mascagni made his own London debut at Covent Garden, conducting L'amico Fritz on June 19, 1893 with Calvé and, of course, De Lucia in the cast. Soon afterwards, again with Calvé, and accompanied by the song composer Paolo Tosti, De Lucia sang excerpts from Cavalleria rusticana for Queen Victoria at Windsor. On July 7 of that year, appearing in a cast which included soprano Nellie Melba and the baritones Mario Ancona and David Bispham, he gave the first British performance of I Rantzau at Covent Garden. (The opera was not a great success.).  In 1893-94, De Lucia sang in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera. He repeated his Canio with Melba and Ancona, and this was esteemed; but he was disliked as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. He did not repeat the experience. In London in 1894, he performed both Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci (together on the one night) at Covent Garden, with Ancona in the lead baritone parts. Shaw admired the "'altogether exceptional dramatic force" which their performances gave to the pair of works. That season he was also in a bilingual (French-Italian) Faust, with Melba, Ancona and Bauermeister. De Lucia sang at La Scala in 1895 in the world premiere of Mascagni's Silvano, and also appeared in the first Milan performances of Puccini's La bohème and Massenet's La Navarraise. The American baritone David Bispham thought De Lucia admirable in Fra Diavolo that year. The cast of Auber's light-hearted opera featured Bispham and Mme Amadi (as Lord and Lady Allcash) and Marie Engle (as Zerlina), as well as the bass Vittorio Arimondi and the buffo baritone Antonio Pini-Corsi (as brigands). In 1896, in Milan, De Lucia appeared as Cavaradossi in Tosca, and again as Almaviva. The next year, he sang in a state concert at London's Buckingham Palace to mark Queen Victoria's Royal Jubilee. At the Costanzi Theatre, Rome, on 22 November 1898, he created the role of Osaka in Mascagni's Iris, and at Covent Garden on 12 July 1900 he played Cavaradossi in the first performance of Tosca in England, supporting the Floria Tosca of Milka Ternina, with Antonio Scotti as Scarpia and Luigi Mancinelli conducting. De Lucia was also admired in London as Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen. He appeared, too, in the same composer's I pescatori di perle and in various works by Rossini, Bellini and Verdi. His last London season would be in 1905, in an outstanding operatic company assembled by Henry Russell for the Waldorf Theatre (now the Novello Theatre). In 1916, De Lucia delivered his farewell performance at La Scala as Rodolfo. He said goodbye to his loyal Neapolitan supporters the following year at the Teatro di San Carlo. De Lucia's final appearance before the public occurred at the funeral of the incomparable Enrico Caruso in Naples in 1921. In his later years, De Lucia dwelt in Naples and taught at the conservatory there, in which he himself had been trained. His most famous pupil was the French tenor Georges Thill. He died in his native city of Naples.

His career evolved as follows:

1888 Madrid  Teatro Reale  Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1891 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Carmen (Don Jose)
1891 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Cavalleria rusticana (Turiddu)
1891 Roma  Teatro Costanzi Cavalleria rusticana (Turiddu)
1892 Madrid  Teatro Reale  Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1895 St. Petersburg Acquarium Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1895 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Cavalleria rusticana (Turiddu)
1895 Montevideo  Nuovo Politeama Cavalleria rusticana (Turiddu)
1896   Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Boheme (Rodolfo)
1897 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Cavalleria rusticana (Turiddu)
1897  Buenos Ayres  Teatro dell'Opera Boheme (Rodolfo)
1897  Montevideo  Teatro Solis Boheme (Rodolfo)
1898  Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Boheme (Rodolfo)
1898 Lisbon Teatro San Carlo Boheme (Rodolfo)
1899 London Covent Garden Boheme (Rodolfo)
1899 Lisbon Teatro San Carlo Boheme (Rodolfo)
1900 London Covent Garden Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1901 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Boheme (Rodolfo)
1902 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1903 Palermo  Teatro Massimo Boheme (Rodolfo)
1904 Lisbon Teatro San Carlo Carmen (Don Jose)
1905 Milan La Scala Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1906 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1908 Roma  Teatro Costanzi Barbiere di Siviglia (Almaviva)
1916 Milan La Scala Boheme (Rodolfo)


Fonotipia, Milano 1911-01-10
Scétate (Costa) 92713 XPh4461
Fenesta che lucive (Cottrau (label: Bellini)) 92715 XPh4462
Chi sa? (Tosti) 92718 XPh4463
Luna nova (Costa) 92702 XPh4465

Fonotipia, Milano 1911-01-11
Serenata scumbinata (Valente) 92698 XPh4466
Marechiare (Tosti) 92699 XPh4467
Lu cardillo (Labriola) 92700 XPh4468
Matenata (Nardella) 92697 XPh4469
Comm' 'o zuccaro (Fonzo) 92711 XPh4470
Ammore che gira (Buongiovanni) 92724 XPh4471
Palomma 'e notte (Buongiovanni) 92719 XPh4472
Durmenno (de Leva) 92703 XPh4473

Fonotipia, Milano 1911-01-12
'O marenariello (Gambardella) 92706 XPh4474
Mamma mia che vo' sapè? (Nutile) 92723 XPh4476
Si chiagnere me siente (Gambardella) 92722 XPh4477
Tu sola! (Gambardella) 92721 XPh4478
Serenata napulitana (Costa) 92717 XPh4479
Voce 'e notte (de Curtis) 92710 XPh4480
Carmela (de Curtis) 92708 XPh4481
Canta pe' me! (de Curtis) 92716 XPh4482

Fonotipia, Milano 1911-01-13
Era de maggio (Costa) 92712 XPh4483
Torna a Surriento (de Curtis) 92705 XPh4484
Dimme (Gambardella) 92707 XPh4485
Napulitanata (Costa) 92714 XPh4486
Luna lù (Ricciardi) (w. chorus) 92720 XPh4487
O sole mio (di Capua) 92701 XPh4488
Vo' turnà (de Curtis) 92704 XPh4489
Serenata a Surriento (de Curtis) 92709 XPh4490]

Fonotipia, Milano 1911-01-14
Mattinata (Leoncavallo) 92695 XPh4491
A suon di baci (Baldelli) 92696 XPh4492

De Lucia by Stampanoni

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ashot - de Lucia, a forgotten singer? I hope not! He's one of my all-time favourites. I have all the G&Ts on the old Rubini LPs (twice!); and the Pearl CD sets covering some of the same ground. I've heard (his parts of) the Phonotype operas, though haven't got great transfers; and I'm not sure if I've got transfers of all the Fonotipias. What I would really like is more transfers of his later Phonotypes! Maybe you have some of those hidden away too?? Perhaps you can email me -- phaistos -at- spamarrest -dot- com & let me know what the Fonotipias & operas would cost, and let me know about the Phonotypes? Thanks David