Giacomo Aragall (or Jaume, as he was originally named) enjoyed a legendary career, even if his name is not always among the most recognized in the opera world.
Born on June 6, 1939, he was singing from the age of nine onward. He made his debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in 1961-62 season and then went over to La Fenice for his debut in 1963. That same year he made history as the youngest tenor to make a debut at La Scala in “L’Amico Fritz.” He also sang in “La Bohème” and Hindemith’s “Cardillac.” From there he took full flight and continued making more history as the first tenor to sing the role of Romeo in Bellini’s “I Capuletti e I Montecchi,” which originally had a mezzo-soprano in the role.
He would go on to sing at the major houses around the globe including those in Vienna, Naples, Paris, Nice, London, Brussels, Prague, Barcelona, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Tokyo… the list goes on and one. He worked with top conductors and made a number of recordings, though not quite as some of his other more well-known contemporaries.
Aragall was renowned for a wide range of repertoire with the Italian repertoire at the forefront of his career. Perhaps his work in Puccini is his most celebrated as he was able to place his stamp on nearly all of the composer’s famed operas. His Rodolfo in “La Bohème” is one of the roles he performed most often and his brightness of timbre was perfect in capturing the youthful artist in love.
Watch and Listen
Here is he is in the love duet from “Madama Butterfly.”
And here is a recording of “I Capuleti e I Montecchi” in which the tenor became the first to sing the role of Romeo ever. His singing was so valued in another recording that he even made Luciano Pavarotti forget his entrance at one point.