Artist Profile: Tenor Flaviano Labò, One of The Underrated Greats Of The 20th Century

By David Salazar

Flaviano Labò was a great tenor, but he never quite enjoyed the career of a great tenor of his time.

Born on Feb. 1, 1927, Labò’s vocal talent was first noticed when he was in the army. At Antonino Votto’s insistence he would go on to study in Parma, Milan, and Piacenza and made his stage debut as Cavaradossi in “Tosca” in Piacenza in 1954.

Europe beckoned thereafter and in 1957 he was in America making his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1959, he appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Palais Garnier in Paris. In 1960 he made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala.

Despite being a beloved tenor, the fame of other major singers at the time overshadowed his own talents and his engagements at major houses were often limited as a result. Years later, the potency of his artistry has been greatly admired.

He died in an automobile accident at the age of 64.

Signature Roles

Labò performed a number of roles in the Italian repertory, but it was his work in Verdi that gained him the most praise. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in a famed performance of “La Forza del Destino” with Leonard Warren and Zinka Milanov; he wasn’t expected to make much of an impact and yet he held his own with the two established stars and went on to a decent career with the company. He made a heralded recording of “Don Carlo” and his “Il Trovatore” was one of his major vehicles throughout his career. “Aida” was another work he performed consistently.

He also enjoyed great success in the operas of Puccini, including “Tosca” and “Turandot.”

Watch and Listen

 Here is his famed “Don Carlo” recording.

And here are two hours of arias and other pieces.


Opera Wiki