Artist Profile: Comic Bass Fernando Corena

By David Salazar

Fernando Corena, born on Dec. 22, 1916, was a famed bass of his time.

Born in Geneva, he studied Theology at Fribourg University with the intention of becoming a priest. However, he won a vocal contest and started working toward a career as a singer. At the suggestion of conductor Vittorio Giu, he went to Milan to complete his vocal studies. During World War II, he returned to Switzerland where he appeared on radio broadcasts and appeared at the Zurich Opera House.

He then made his big debut in Trieste in 1947 and from there was performing all over Italy; in 1949, he took part in the world premiere in “Il Dordovano” at La Scala.

It was during this time that he started performing buffo roles, appearing in the title role of “Falstaff” at the Edinburgh Festival. He made his Met Opera debut in February of 1954 and became a major part of the company until 1978; in sum, he completed 723 performances with the company in operas by Rossini, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, and Donizetti, among others.

He also appeared in Philadelphia, London, Brussels, Paris, and Argentina, among other countries throughout his career.

He died on Nov. 26, 1984.

Signature Roles

While he did take on a number of serious roles throughout his career, Corena is best-known for his interpretation of buffo roles. In fact, at the Met he even took on smaller comic roles in major operas, such as the Sacristan in “Tosca,” which he took on 121 times in his Met career.

One of the major roles that he championed throughout his Met career was that of Leporello in “Don Giovanni,” which he sang 76 times at the company.

Read More on Corena

Three Roles That Dominates His Met Career

Watch and Listen

Here is an album of wide-ranging repertoire.

And here is a recording of Corena in “Gianni Schicchi.”


Opera Wiki