Artist Profile: Italian Powerhouse Franco Bonisolli

By David Salazar

Franco Bonisolli is one of the finest Italian tenors of his generation.

Born on May 25, 1938, the tenor managed a solid career throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his onstage and offstage personality often drawing great attention.

His career kicked off in 1962 in lyric tenor roles like Nemorino in “L’Elisir d’amore,” Alfredo in “La Traviata,” Rodolfo in “La Bohème,” and the title character in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” He also appeared in a number of rare bel canto operas alongside Montserrat Caballé and Beverly Sills, as well as a few world premieres. But in the 1970s, his voice would switch gears quite dramatically.

He made his debut in such houses as Vienna State Opera, Salzburg Festival, Paris Opera, and Metropolitan Opera and would go on to interpret such operas as “Otello,” “Il Trovatore,” “Aida,” “Carmen,” Turandot,” and “Tosca,” among others.

Holding out high notes for lengthy periods became his trademark.

Signature Roles

The tenor is most famous for his interpretation of Manrico in “Il Trovatore,” a role he would record with Herbert Von Karajan. The tenor’s early training in more lyric repertoire served him quite well in this heavier part, with the tenor able to mix these two qualities in his voice elegantly.

Watch and Listen

Here is a video of Bonisolli’s well-known antics in concert.

And here he is in a wide range of Verdi repertoire.


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