Italian bass Ezio Pinza, born on May 18, 1892, never learned to read music.
But that didn’t stop him from enjoying a massively successful career.
The bass grew up in Ravenna and would study in Bologna. He made his Operatic debut in 1914 at Cremona. After four years of Military service during World War I, he made his La Scala debut in 1922 and would see his career flourish under Arturo Toscanini.
In 1926 he made his Metropolitan Opera debut and would go on to perform 22 years with the company. Many of his major iconic roles were performed for the first time at the Met. He also sang in London regularly between 1930-39 and the Salzburg Festival.
After finishing his career with the Met in 1948, Pinza went on to have a career in Broadway musicals, most notably “South Pacific.” He also appeared in a number of movies.
He passed away in 1957 from a stroke.
The bass became closely associated with the role of “Don Giovanni” mainly because of his elegant vocal qualities and physique. He performed it 64 times throughout his Met career, his first showcase coming in 1929 and his final performance coming in 1948.
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Watch and Listen
Here is a listen at his signature role as “Don Giovanni” from a Met performance in 1942.
And here he is in “Some Enchanted Evening.”