Artist Profile: Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, One Of The Great Tenors Of The Early 20th Century

By David Salazar

Tenor Giacomo Lauri-Volpi was born on Dec. 11, 1892 and was orphaned by age 11.

He graduated the university and started taking voice lessons, but was forced to serve the Italian Armed Forces during World War One. Once the war was over, however, he was able to embark on his opera career. His first performance was as Arturo in “I Puritani” in Viterbo, Italy on Sept. 2, 1919.

He would become a major fixture at the Teatro alla Scala thereafter and would also become a leading tenor at the Metropolitan Opera between 1923 and 1933; he totaled 307 performances at the Met.

He also appeared at the Royal Opera House in 1925 and 1936. During World War II, he performed regularly in his native Italy and was a favorite of dictator Benito Mussolini. He retired from the stage in 1959 in a production of “Il Trovatore.”

After World War II, he retired to Spain and died in Valencia on March 17, 1979.

Signature Roles

Lauri-Volpi was renowned for a wide-ranging repertoire that went from the operas of Bellini all the way to Verdi’s “Otello.” His greatest successes early on were in lyric and bel canto roles of the Italian repertoire, but as the years went by, the tenor started to tackle darker and heavier roles. There have been reports that his voice lost it homogeneous nature as a result, but his high notes always remained strong throughout his career.

He was featured in the American premiere of “Turandot” and sang in the Met Opera’s first-ever showcase of “Luisa Miller.”

Read More on Lauri-Volpi

Here Are Six Fun Facts

Watch and Listen

Here is an album of Lauri-Volpi singing Verdi.

And here is an album with more varied repertoire.


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