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Giuseppi de Luca, Italian Baritone

By May 11, 2024No Comments

Giuseppi De Luca was a small man with by no means a large voice, but he used it to produce such beauty of sound, technically and stylistically so cultivated and assured, that wherever these qualities are held in esteem he is still counted as something of a giant. He is expert in Bel Canto. What is o remarkable in de Luca is his legato, his colorature, and the sheer freeness of the voice. There is no drag on his voice; that is, the squeezing and swallowing muscles are not used to create a sound. He is a wonderful singer to get to know.

Beau Soir

Lorsque au soleil couchant les rivières sont roses
Et qu’un tiède frisson court sur les champs de blé,
Un conseil d’être heureux semble sortir des choses
Et monter vers le coeur troublé.

Un conseil de goûter le charme d’être au monde
Cependant qu’on est jeune et que le soir est beau,
Car nous nous en allons, comme s’en va cette onde:
Elle à la mer, nous au tombeau.

Beautiful Evening

As the sun sets rivers run pink
A lukewarm shudder runs through fields of wheat
Advice to be happy seems to draw things out
Comes close to a troubled heart

Advice to taste the charm of being in the world
While we are young and the evening still beautiful
Because we disappear, as this wave goes away
It to the sea, we to the grave.

Rigoletto Quartet from Act III of Verdi’s Rigoletto:

Duke – Beniamino Gigli
Rigoletto – Giuseppi de Luca
Maddalena – Louise Homer
Gilda – Amellita Galli-Curci

Bella figlia dell’amore,
schiavo son dei vezzi tuoi;
con un detto sol tu puoi
le mie pene consolar.
Vieni e senti del mio core
il frequente palpitar.
Con un detto, ecc.

Ah! ah! rido ben di core,
che tai baie costan poco…

Ah, così parlar d’amore…

…quanto valga il vostro gioco,
mel credete, so apprezzar.

…a me l’infame ho udito!

Taci, il piangere non vale, ecc.

Infelice cor tradito,
per angoscia non scoppiar.

Son avvezza, bel signore,
ad un simile scherzar,
mio bel signor!

Con un detto sol tu puoi
le mie pene consolar.

Infelice cor tradito,
per angoscia non scoppiar, ecc.

Ah! Ah! Rido ben di core!
Che tai baie costan poco, ecc.

Bella figlia dell’amore,
schiavo son de’ vezzi tuoi, ecc.

Fairest daughter of love,
I am a slave to your charms;
with but a single word you could
relieve my every pain.
Come, touch my breast and feel
how my heart is racing.
With but a single word, etc.

Ah! Ah! That really makes me laugh;
talk like that is cheap enough…

Ah, these are the loving words…

…believe me, I know exactly
what such play-acting is worth!

…the scoundrel spoke once to me!

RIGOLETTO (to Gilda)
Hush, weeping can do no good, etc.

O wretched heart betrayed,
do not break for sorrow.

I, my fine sir, am quite accustomed
to foolish jokes like this,
my fine sir!

With but a single word you could
relieve my every pain.

O wretched heart betrayed,
do not break for sorrow, etc.

Ah! Ah! That really makes me laugh;
talk like that is cheap enough, etc.

Fairest daughter of love,
I am a slave to your charms, etc.

Bellini, I Puritani, “Or dove fuggo io mai?…Ah, per sempre io ti perdei”

Or dove fuggo mai? … Dove mai celo
Gli orrendi affanni miei? Come quei canti
Mi risuonano all’alma amari pianti!
O Elvira, Elvira, o mio sospir soave,
Per sempre, per sempre, io ti perdei!
Senza speme ed amor, in questa vita
Or che rimane a me?
Ah! Per sempre io ti perdei,
Fior d’amore, o mia speranza;
Ah! La vita che m’avanza
Sarà piena di dolor!
Quando errai per anni ed anni
In poter della ventura,
Io sfidai sciagura e affanni
Nella speme del tuo amor.

Bellini, The Puritans, “To where do I flee . . .Ah, forever, I have lost you”

To where do I flee? … Where ever it cloaks
My horrendous troubles? Like those songs
They make my soul feel bitter tears!
O Elvira, Elvira, or my sweet sigh,
Forever, forever, I lost you!
Without hope and love, in this life
What remains to me?
Ah! Forever I lost you,
Flower of love, o my hope;
Ah! The life that drives me
will be full of pain!
When I wandered for years and years
Tossed by the power of fate,
I challenged misfortune and trouble
In the hope of your love.

Giuseppi de Luca
December 25, 1876 – August 26, 1950

Giuseppi de Luca, had an extensive career and was considered one of the greatest bel canto singers of his time.

De Luca made his Metropolitan debut on November 23, 1915, as Figaro in the “Barber of Seville” and until 1935 remained one of the most important members of the company. During his twenty-year career at the Metropolitan, he performed some 100 French and Italian roles – singing in more than 800 performances. He had made as many as fifty appearances in a season. Rigoletto was his favorite role.

Born in Rome, he was the son of Nicola De Luca, a blacksmith. His mother, the former Lucia De Filippi, was the possessor of a beautiful soprano voice, and it was his mother who desired a rounded vocal education for him.

At the age of 8, he began studying at the Schola Cantorum in Rome. As an accomplished boy soprano, young De Lucas sang in St. Peter’s and before Pope Leo XIII. Then followed several years of intensive study in various schools until he had the good fortune to study with Persichini (one of the greatest teachers of his time), from whom he learned the art of bel canto. On November 6, 1897l, when he was nearing 21, he made his debut as Valentin in “Faust” at the opera house of Piacenza, a town just south of the Po river.

His success was immediate. Then followed operatic appearances at Genoa. In 1898, he appeared in the opera house of Ferra, then, under the direction of Giulio Gatti-Casaazza, for whom he was to sing for three decades in Milan and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

The summer of 1903 the baritone was in Buenos Aires for the first time with a company headed by Caruso and conducted by Toscanini. The next winter he joined Milan’s La Scala, and in his first season there, he sang in the world premiere of Puccini’s “Madama. Butterfly”

Critical acclaim greeted his first appearance at the Metropolitan in New York, and in the years there that followed, he invariably was lauded for his vocal and dramatic performances. Among de Luca’s most frequent partners were Caruso, Rosa Ponselle, Claudia Muzio, Giovanni Martinelli, John McCormack, Adamo Didur and José Mardones.

After his retirement from the Metropolitan in 1935, Mr. De Luca continued to sing on the concert stage and on radio. Five years later he returned to the Metropolitan for several performances, receiving an enthusiastic welcome in the role of Elder Germont in Verdi’s “La Traviata”.

In November 1947, an overflow crowd jammed Town Hall for his Golden Jubilee as a singer.