In a time when Tito Gobbi and Ettore Bastiani reigned supreme, Aldo Protti wasn’t quite given all that much appreciation.
The baritone, born on July 19, 1920, has since retained his place in the history books. And while he is not universally hailed as the greatest, or even of the greatest of all-time, Protti retains the stature of being one of the famed baritones of the 20th century.
That said, there is still a lot to uncover about Protti and here are a few fun facts about the baritone as we celebrate what would have been his 97th birthday.
1 Met Opera Performance
During his era, most of the world’s famed singers appeared on the Met stage regularly. Protti made a late debut at the age of 65 in “Rigoletto” on April 12, 1985. While he appeared with the company nine times that season, he only sang on the actual Met stage during that first performance. All the others were in Minnesota, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Washington, Queens, and the Bronx.
His Most Famed Recordings Almost Never Happened
Of all the recordings he left behind, the most famous is arguably the “Otello” that features him alongside Mario del Monaco and Renata Tebaldi, all under the baton of Herbert Von Karajan. But that famous recording from 1961 was supposed to have a different baritone as Iago – Bastianini. However, the famed Italian singer was not prepared for the role in time for the recording and Karajan opted for Protti instead.
He was an advocate for rare operas, appearing in “La Morte de Danton,” Schumann’s “Genoveva,” and Lorenzo Perosi’s “La Passione di Cristo.”
He was constantly run out of town
For years he was the go-to for London/Decca Records. That is until the company acquired Bastianini. The same happened to him at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He was the main man there but then found himself ousted when Bastianini, Cornell MacNeil, and Gobbi joined the roster.
His Key Role
While Protti sang a wide range of Italian operas, there was one role he was widely recognized for – “Rigoletto.” In sum, he sang the opera 425 times throughout his career.
Listen to the baritone in his most famous role: