Obituary: Italian Tenor Gianfranco Cecchele Dies At 80

By Francisco Salazar

Gianfranco Cecchele has died at the age of 80.

The Italian tenor died on Dec. 12, 2018, of Lung Cancer after battling with the illness for years.

Born in Galliera Veneta, Padova, Cecchele was passionate about boxing and singing. But his father did not allow him to box and as a result, he dedicated his life to opera.

He would garner the attention of Marcello del Monaco, who took him under his tutelage and after a few months, Cecchele went on to participate in a competition at the Teatro Nuovo di Milano.

On March 5, 1964, the tenor made his debut at the Teatro Bellini di Catania in Mule’s “La Zolfara.” That led to his debut at the Teatro alla Scala and Teatro La Fenice.

A year later he went on to sing at the Opéra National de Paris alongside Maria Callas in “Norma” and also performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Wiener Staatsoper, and Royal Opera House. After five years of career, he had already racked up 240 performances and had already performed alongside such greats as Birgit Nilsson, Renata Tebaldi, Fiorenza Cossotto, Antonietta Stella, Ruggero Raimondi, Tito Gobbi, and Mirella Freni, among others.

He went on to make his Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera house debuts years later and would go on to perform more than 2000 performances in his 48-year career.

Among his signature roles were Cavaradossi in “Tosca,” Radamès in “Aida,” Turiddu in “Cavalleria Rusticana,”  and Pollione in “Norma.”

The tenor also left a number of notable live and studio recordings. Among the recordings are “Norma”  with Maria Callas and Fiorenza Cossotto, “Simon Boccanegra” with Antonietta Stella, “Alzira” with Virginia Zeani and Cornell MacNeil, “La Gioconda” with Renata Tebaldi, “Aroldo” with Montserrat Caballe, “Attila” with Ruggero Raimondi, and  Antonietta Stella, and “Tosca” with Gwyneth Jones and Gabriel Bacquier.

He is survived by his wife and five children.

Here is a recording of the tenor in “Attila” alongside Antonietta Stella.

And here he is in “Luisa Miller.”