Piero Cappuccilli

9.11.1926 - 11.07.2005


Piero Cappuccilli (November 9, 1926 - July 11, 2005) was an Italian operatic baritone, particularly associated with Verdi roles, especially Macbeth and Simon Boccanegra; he was renowned for his extraordinary breath control and smooth legato, and is widely regarded as one of the finest Italian baritones of the second half of the 20th century.

Born in Trieste, Cappuccilli originally intended to become an architect, but after encouragement from relatives decided to pursue a career in opera. He studied with Luciano Donaggio in his native city, and made his stage debut there in 1951, singing small parts.

He made his official operatic debut in 1957 at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan, singing Tonio in Pagliacci. In 1960, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Giorgio Germont in La traviata, which was to be his only performance at the Met.

Cappuccilli spent most of his career singing in Europe, with only infrequent travels to North and South America. He made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala in 1964, as Enrico, at the Royal Opera House in London as Germont in 1967, and his Opéra de Paris debut took place in 1978, as Amonasro. He also appeared at the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. He worked with the greatest European conductors of his time (von Karajan, Gavazzeni, Abbado, Kleiber) and became one of the finest interpreters of the Italian repertoire.

Cappuccilli was highly respected as a "Verdi baritone", where his beautiful voice, fine vocal technique, musical elegance, and dignified stage presence, were shown to their best advantage.

He left an impressive discography, he recorded Lucia di Lammermoor twice, first with Maria Callas in 1959, and with Beverly Sills in 1970. Other notable recordings include; Rigoletto, opposite Ileana Cotrubas and Placido Domingo, under Carlo Maria Giulini, Macbeth, opposite Shirley Verrett, and Simon Boccanegra, opposite Mirella Freni and Nicolai Ghiaurov, both under Claudio Abbado.

Cappuccilli sang until his early sixties, until an automobile accident in 1992 ended his stage career. He died in his native Trieste, at the age of 78.

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