Artist Profile: Leo Nucci, The Rigoletto of 2 Centuries

By David Salazar

Leo Nucci is one of the greatest baritones of the 20th century, dominating in the repertoire of Verdi, among other Italian operas.

Born on April 16, 1942, he hails from Castiglione dei Pepoli  and made his debut in Spoleto as Figaro in Rossini’s “Il barbiere di Siviglia.”

A quick run through of his career yield the following dates as his major triumphs. He made his solo debut at La Scala in 1975, after being a chorus member.

In 1978, he debuted at the Royal Opera House in “Luisa Miller.” In 1980, he appeared on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in “Un Ballo in Maschera.” His Paris debut came in 1981 and his Salzburg Festival Debut came in 1989.

Top Roles

The baritone has devoted his career to the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, taking on a wide plethora of his operas. But there is no doubt that he will forever be linked with the title role of “Rigoletto.”

The role is by far the most widely performed by the baritone and he has recorded it more than any other opera in his entire repertoire. For some perspective, he has recordings of the opera with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Alfredo Kraus, Luciana Serra, June Anderson, Francesco DeMuro, Nino Machaidze, Elena Mosuc, Piotr Beczala, Inva Mula, and Aquiles Machado. In sum, you could find at least four different DVDs dedicated to his recordings of Rigoletto.

While one can make the case for other major interpreters of the role, there is no doubt that Nucci is the biggest champion of the flawed Verdi protagonist, performing the role throughout the end of the 20th century and well into the 21st as well.

Watch and Listen

Keeping on with the theme of “Rigoletto,” here is a recent performance of his warhorse role as well as a look at his interpretation over the years with 34 renditions of “Si vendetta.”



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