Fernando Corena, born on Dec. 22, 1916, had a long-standing association with the Metropolitan Opera.
In fact, he sang over 700 times with the company between 1954 and 1978. His first ever performance with the company was as Leporello in “Don Giovanni,” that debut coming on Feb. 6, 1954. On Dec. 30, 1978, he finished off his Met career in the title role of “Don Pasquale.”
Throughout that time span, he took on a number of roles, some more than one might expect. Here is a look at the roles that dominated Corena’s Met career.
The bass practically owned the role of the Sacristan in “Tosca” during his tenure at the Met. In sum, he sang it a whopping 121 times (16 percent of all his performances for those keeping track).
Another role that he sang countless times (116 to be sure) was Don Bartolo in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia.” “Fernando Corena’s buffo part of Dr. Bartolo was appropriately ludicrous and laughable; at the same time it was extremely well sung. He could falsetto in mimicking Rosina and all that; he was every moment the accomplished artist,” said Olin Downes of the NY Times on Corena’s first ever interpretation of the role at the Met. His last Bartolo came on Jan. 31, 1976.
Returning to the role with which he made his debut, Corena sang it 76 times and received raves for his work. On the account of his debut, Musical America’s critic wrote, “ On the basis of this one performance, Mr. Corena would seem to be a most valuable addition to the number of singing-actors at the opera house… Mr. Corena’s voice was an excellent one, securely produced, flexible, if of no great richness. Everything he sang had meaning, and his Italian diction was the most beautiful the Metropolitan has heard in a number of years.”
He never came quite as close to these three roles numerically speaking though he did take on such roles as Fra Melitone, Benoit, Dr. Dulcamara, and Dr. Bartolo (in “Le Nozze di Figaro”), close to or over 50 times throughout his Met career.