Dino Borgioli was born in Florence on February 15th 1891. He began to study law but soon decided to concentrate on singing and took voice lessons with Eugenio Giacchetti.
Borgioli’s official operatic debut took place in 1914 at the Teatro Corso in Milan as Arturo in “l Puritani”. After performances in Naples and Bologna he was heard for the first time at the Teatro Dal Verme in 1918 and in the same year made his debut as Ernesto in “Don Pasquale” at the Scala of Milan, where his career was strongly supported by Arturo Toscanini and where he sang regularly until 1931.
At the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, later Teatro Reale, too, he had a successful career from 1918 on and appeared there in the world premiere of Franco Casavola s “11 Gobbo del Califfo” in 1929. His international career began to take off in 1921 when Borgioli spent the whole summer at the Teatro Col6n in Buenos Aires. He was heard in “II Barbiere di Siviglia” and “Rigoletto” (both with Maria Barrientos and Carlo Galeffi), “Don Pasquale” (with Barrientos, Crabbe and Azzolini) and “I Puritani” (with Barrientos, Galeffi and Didur).
His high level of education enabled him to sing several French roles, such as “Manon”, the South-American premiere of Massenet’s “Griselidis” and “Les Contes d’ Hoffmann” in their original language (rather an exception among Italian tenors during those days). In all three operas his partner at the Colon was the ever critical Ninon Vallin, who repeatedly praised Borgioli’s excellent French pronunciation and stylistic feeling.
After guest performances in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Lisboa and an Australian tour with Nellie Melba in 1924 he gave his debut performance at Covent Garden in London in 1925 together with Toti Dal Monte in “Lucia di Lammermoor”. During the same season he also had great success in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and “Rigoletto” (both with Maria Ivogün and Joseph Schwarz). In 1927 he returned to Covent Garden as Duke in “Rigoletto” (with Ivogün and Mariano Stabile) and in the following year in “La Boheme”, “Madama Butterfly” and “Boris Godunov” (with Fjodor Schaljapin).
In 1930 Borgioli was Rosa Ponselle’s Alfredo in “La Traviata”and Fenton in “Falstaff’, in 1934 he sang Don Ramiro in “La Cenerentola” (with Conchita Supervia) and in 1935 “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” with Lily Pons and Giuseppe De Luca. Borgioli married the Australian singer Patricia Moore and settled in London and as a consequence his appearances in England from 1933 on were more frequent than those in his home country.
At Covent Garden he added to his repertory “Un Ballo in Maschera” (his heaviest role) and was heard in 1936 in “Tosca” (with Gina Cigna) and in 1937 in “Don Pasquale” (with Mafalda Favero, Biasini and Di Lelio). In 1931 he appeared at the Salzburg Festival in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (with Stabile and Autori) and in 1936 and 1937 as Fenton in “Falstaff’ under Toscanini.
With Claudia Muzio as Tosca he inaugurated the new Opera House in San Francisco in 1932 and was engaged at the Chicago Opera for a short season in 1934. His success in Chicago led to an offer from the Metropolitan Opera, who presumably was looking for a replacement for Beniamino Gigli. Borgioli’s debut took place on December 315t 1934 in “La Boheme” (with Lucrezia Bori, Richard Bonelli and Virgilio Lazzari), but his only new role during this season remained Don Ottavio in “Don Giovanni” under Tullio Serafin (with Pinza, Ponselle, Maria Müller and Lazzari). At the Festival in Glyndebourne he was heard with great success as Don Ottavio in the years between 1937 and 1939 and as Ernesto in “Don Pasquale” in 1938, in Paris he was heard both at the Opera Comique and at the Grand Opera. Aside from the roles already mentioned Dino Borgioli’s extensive repertory also included: “Le Comte d’Ory”, “L’Elisir d’ Amore”, “L’ Amico Fritz”, “La Favorita”, “Faust”, “Adriana Lecouvreur”, “Cavalleria Rusticana”, “Les Pecheurs de Perles”, “Werther” and “La Rondine”.
In 1946, he bade farewell to the stage and was co¬ director of the New London Opera Company until 1948, he also was a very distinguished singing teacher and throughout his career a highly acclaimed lied-singer. His last concert took place in 1949 in Nottingham. Later, he returned to Italy and died in Florence on September 13th 1960.
Dino Borgioli was born into the tenor-generation of Beniamino Gigli and Tito Schipa. – During his career and even more so after his death Borgioli’s art has remained in the shadow of both singers. The timbre of his voice comes closer to Schipa’s than to Gigli’s. It was a bright, silvery voice with a slightly nasal tone, but it was clearer than Schipa’s. As a thorough musician he not only laid a strong emphasis on phrasing, but also on vocal dynamics: one just has to listen to his refined shadings between forte and mezzo forte or piano and pianissimo. Borgioli was a good actor and looked very well on stage. All his recordings were made for Columbia, among whose exclusive artists he was. His earliest recordings date from 1920, after the introduction of the electric recording system – at the Columbia studios in 1926 – he re-recorded several items and added new ones. In England he recorded numerous songs, many of them sung in English and German. Luckily, his voice has also been preserved in two complete opera-recordings made in 1930: “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and “Rigoletto” (both with Riccardo Stracciari and Mercedes Capsir).