Artist Profile: Ramón Vinay, A Historic Otello

By David Salazar

Ramón Vinay is one of the greatest dramatic tenors to ever live.

Born on August 31, 1911 in Chile, the tenor would actually kickstart his career as a baritone in Mexico in 1938. His tenor debut came in 1943 and he would go on to perform all around the world at such houses as the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Salzburg Festival, La Scala, and the Bayreuth Festival.

He didn’t have the most varied of repertoire, specializing in such dramatic roles as Otello, Canio in “Pagliacci,” Don José in “Carmen” and a number of Wagner operas, among others. In 1962, he returned to singing baritone roles and in 1969 he retired from the stage altogether.

He died in Mexico in 1996.

Major Roles

If you ask people to list off the greatest “Otello” interpreters in history, Ramón Vinay will undoubtedly make it onto the list most of the time. Tenor Carlo Bergonzi famously noted that he felt Vinay’s was one of the only true tenor voices capable of handling the challenging role.

He was the man that Toscanini and Furtwangler turned to when they wanted to record “Otello.”His interpretation of the title role towers over many, with many other great Otellos, including Mario del Monaco expressing tremendous admiration.

He was the first tenor to sing the role on television

Read More on Vinay

A Look at His Baritone and Bass Roles

Watch and Listen

Here is his legendary “Otello” recording under Toscanini

And here he is with Birgit Nilsson in “Die Walküre”


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