Piero Cappuccilli had the distinction of being one of the great Verdi baritones of his time.
Born on Nov. 9, 1926, Cappuccilli was born in Trieste and was originally intent on becoming an architect. He was heard by Luciano Donaggio, who encouraged him to pursue a vocal career; while Cappuccilli was reluctant he was eventually persuaded and made his opera stage debut in 1951.
In 1955, he auditioned for the Teatro alla Scala and was encouraged to enter the Viotti competition, which he won. He made his official opera debut as Tonio in “Pagliacci” at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan in 1957, and by 1960, he had made his Metropolitan Opera debut, his only performance at the New York theater.
He would eventually get that debut at La Scala in 1964, followed by a debut at the Royal Opera House in 1967.
His career came to a close when he suffered a car accident in 1992.
He passed away at age 78 on July 11, 2005.
Cappuccilli and Verdi are almost synonymous as he was the Verdi baritone of the mid-to-late 20th century, taking on all the major roles by the composer.
His recordings of “Il Trovatore,” “Aida,” “La Traviata,” “Macbeth,” and, especially, “Simon Boccanegra” are legendary; many consider his “Simon Boccanegra” the best recorded in history.
And while Verdi was the focal point of his great career, he was also a famed interpreter of Carlo Gerard in “Andrea Chénier.”
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Watch and Listen
Here he is singing “Il balen del suo sorriso.”
Here’s the famed double arias from “Don Carlo.”