Artist Profile: Sesto Bruscantini, A Truly Versatile Baritone

By David Salazar

Baritone Sesto Bruscantini, born on Dec. 10, 1919, would go on to become a major Italian baritone throughout the 20th century.

He actually obtained a law degree but turned to vocal studies and by 1947 had won a voice contest organized by RAI. His first professional appearance was in 1946 as Colline in “La Bohème;” his rendition of “Vecchia zimarra” was encored.

In 1949, he made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala. From there he became a regular at the Glyndebourne Festival, as well as the one in Salzburg. He also performed in Vienna, Paris, Madrid, Monte Carlo, and Brussels.

While he didn’t perform often outside of Europe, he appeared at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for 11 seasons between 1961 and 1986. He also made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1981 when he was 62-years-old.

He died on May 4, 2003.

Signature Roles

Bruscantini’s career is an unusual one, making it difficult to truly pin down a signature role for him. His early years were dedicated to comic operas where he established himself in the operas of Mozart and Rossini, alongside some other bel canto works by Donizetti.

In his later period, he became more of a Verdi baritone, with such roles as “Rigoletto” and Germont in “La Traviata” among his major touchstones.

He also championed rare operas, including the works of Pergolesi, Galuppi, and Cimarosa.

Read More on Bruscantini

A Deeper Look at His Career’s Contrasting Moments

Watch and Listen

Here is a recording of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” with Bruscantini in the title role.

And here he is in “La Traviata.”


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