Artist Profile: Louis Quilico, ‘Mr. Rigoletto’

By David Salazar

Born on Jan. 14, 1925, Canadian baritone Louis Quilico would go on to a strong career as an interpreter of French and Italian operas.

He studied music from an early age and won a prize in 1947. From there he headed over to Rome to continue his musical studies and then he went and studied at the Mannes College in New York as well as the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal. His professional debut came in 1954 in Montréal and in 1955, he won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, making his debut at the NY City Opera that same year.

His debut at the Spoleto Festival came in 1959, followed a year later by his first appearance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Paris, Buenos Aires, and Moscow came thereafter with the Canadian Opera Company and Vienna State Opera following.

He eventually made it to the Metropolitan Opera in 1972, though his official debut came in 1973. In 1987, he appeared in “Don Giovanni” alongside his son Gino Quilico, the two making history for being the first father and son in the same opera at the Met.

His later years were dedicated to teaching and he worked at the University of Toronto, McGill University, and Academy of Vocal Arts, among others.

He died on July 15, 2000.

Signature Roles

He sang the title role of “Rigoletto” over 500 times throughout his career and his renown in the role earned him the nickname of “Mr. Rigoletto.” In fact, one of his recordings was titled “Mr. Rigoletto: My Life in Music” and his biography was also entitled “Mr. Rigoletto: In Conversation With Louis Quilico.”

Watch and Listen

The aria from “Rigoletto.”

A documentary about his life.


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