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Mario del Monaco (Florence, July 27, 1915 – Mestre, October 16, 1982) was an Italian dramatic tenor. It is commonly considered the best dramatic tenor of the 20th century.
Mario del Monaco was born into a wealthy Florentine family with a musical background. His father, a Neapolitan, served as a music critic in New York. His mother, Florentine, had a soprano voice that Mario defined as his first muse.
Del Monaco studied the violin but was always passionate about singing. He graduated from the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro, where he met Renata Tebaldi and sang for the first time with her. Raffaelli, his teacher, recognized his talent and helped him start his career. He studied his vocal technique mainly with Melocchi.
In 1936 he won a scholarship for a course of improvement at the school of the Opera of Rome, where he met Rina Filippini, with whom he would later marry. In Rome, the teaching method proved wrong for his unusual vocal characteristics, and brought him inconveniences. Mario returned like this with Melocchi, who solved those problems.
Debuttò in Cagli in 1939 with Cavalleria rusticana, but his first success was on December 31, 1940 in Madama Butterfly at the Teatro Puccini in Milan. the activity of the following years was irregular because of the war. But since 1945 his career has excelled. He debuted in London in 1946 with Tosca e Pagliacci), in 1947 at the Opera of Rome with Carmen and Cavalleria rusticana, and in 1949 at La Scala with Andrea Chénier.
In 1950 he made his debut at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, singing for the first time in his career the ‘Otello Verdiano, role to which his name was forever associated. Otello was a character that Del Monaco matured throughout his career, so many argue that his approach to this role is still not overcome. He played the character at least 427 times.
From 1950 to 1959 he was regularly summoned by the Metropolitan of New York, and was the first Italian singer of the postwar period who sang at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, where the fanaticism that his interpretations of Carmen and Pagliacci aroused led authorities Soviets to confer the Order of Lenin, the highest honor given by the state.
He starred in historical editions of Fanciulla del west (Firenze 1954), Norma (La Scala 1955), Ernani (Firenze 1957), Sansone e Dalila (Met 1958), I Troiani (La Scala 1960). Among his favorite titles was Aida. He had a fruitful musical association with the soprano Renata Tebaldi in several recordings and performances.
In 1964, a serious car accident forced him to interrupt his activity, which he resumed at the end of that year and maintained a decade more. He retired from the boards with Tosca in Hamburg in February 1976. In 1978 he made an appearance in the film by Dino Risi Primo amore.
Mario del Monaco died on October 16, 1982 at the age of 67 at his residence in Mestre (the territorial portion of Venice), due to cardiac arrest, a consequence of his weakened health resulting from advanced chronic nephritis. .
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