Artist Profile: Renato Bruson, A Great Verdi Baritone of the 20th And Early 21st Century

By David Salazar

Renato Bruson, born on Jan. 13, 1936, was born near Padua, Italy and would go on to become one of the great Italian baritones of the late 20th century.

He studied music at the conservatory of Padua but did not enjoy much support from his family. Bruson himself once noted that his family thought he wanted to be a musician so he didn’t have to do anything else. But he made a breakthrough in 1960 when he debuted as the Conte di Luna in “Il Trovatore” in Spoleto. A year later he was in Rome and by 1969 he had made his Metropolitan Opera debut. A Teatro alla Scala debut came in 1972 with Edinburgh International Festival next up on his list of major achievements. In 1978, he made his first appearance at the Vienna State Opera.

He made a number of recordings throughout his career, many of them on video.

Among his many honors were Honorary citizenships in Fermo, Parma, Ortona, Palmi, and the “Donizetti Society” of London. He was also given Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Urbino, and awarded Cavaliere di Gran Croce from the Italian Republic, among other accolades.

Signature Roles

The term “Verdi Baritone” gets thrown around a lot with Bruson and that’s because he conquered all the major roles by the great composer. Many pointed toward his interpretations of “Rigoletto” with his Germont and “Falstaff” also getting raves.

“I believe Renato Bruson now is the Falstaff. He has the wit, the intelligence, the dignity and, of course, the voice. Basta,” stated famed conductor Carlo Maria Giulini, who picked the baritone for his famed recording of Verdi’s final opera.  

“Bruson was the quintessential Verdi baritone in the second half of the last century. A Verdi baritone not as it was understood (or rather, misunderstood) in the 1950s and 1960s, but a Verdi baritone as understood and desired by the composer himself,” stated music critic Christian Springer.

Read More on Bruson

Five Essential Verdi Recordings

Watch and Listen

Here is a concert featuring the baritone.

And here he is in “Macbeth.”


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