As far as bass-baritones go, few have the magnetic personality or onstage charisma of Italian Ruggero Raimondi.
Born on Oct. 3, 1941, Raimondi was prodigious, his voice already mature by his teen years. At 15, he auditioned for maestro Francesco Molinari-Pradelli and a year later was admitted into the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan. He would win the National Competition for Singers in Spoleto later on in his youth and would eventually make his professional debut in that same city in “La Bohème.”
Fame would come quickly for the singer as he would start participating not only at all the major theaters in his country, but also around the world. He debuted at La Scala in 1968, with a Met debut arriving in 1970. He appeared for the first time at the Covent Garden in 1972, in Paris in 1975, and in Salzburg in 1980.
He would make it big on the small and big screen, appearing on the French mini-series “Les Sanglot des Anges” as well as a number of other films. He also made a career as an opera director.
Raimondi made a big career out of the big bass Verdi roles in such operas as “I Vespri Siciliani,” “Attila,” “Don Carlo,” and “Simon Boccanegra,” among others. But he himself claimed that Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” was his favorite opera and he even kicked off his career as a director with the work. He also appeared in a filmed version of “Don Giovanni” as the title character himself.
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Watch & Listen
Here is the famed bass-baritone in “Don Giovanni.”
And here is a magnificent interpretation of the aria from Verdi’s “Don Carlo.”