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October 2013
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Tito Gobbi: Intrigue at 100

Tito Gobbi

Tito Gobbi

Tito Gobbi, Master-Singer—a Centenary Celebration, Sunday at 5:00 PM

It’s been 40 years since he sang; 30 since he passed away, but there’s something compelling about Tito Gobbi. He has hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, and continues to be one of the most influential baritones of today’s singers. Many say it was his ability to continually shape and color a role, finding different avenues from one performance to the next. Others say he raised the bar for acting in opera, showing equal commitment to both theater and music.

WFMT joined with Radio New Zealand Concert to produce a two hour special on the life of Tito Gobbi, who would turn 100 this month. One of his biggest admirers Thomas Hampson hosts this profile, with comments from Gobbi himself, his daughter Cecilia, Ruggero Raimondi, Renata Scotto, James Conlon and others.


  • DanShea

    A wonderfully expressive artist who made every parola count, this appreciation by Thomas Hampson is very apt and interesting for giving us the early voice. It wasn’t the most beautiful baritone voice out there, but a perfect sound for his great roles: Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto, Germont, Sharpless etc. as well as the villains like Scarpia, Iago – and once you get used to his very individual timbre, you appreciate its qualities, not only of expressiveness but of phrasing and diction too, in a wide range of parts.
    Besides this, there was his key leadership of Lyric back in its early days – impossible to overstate.
    Dan Shea

  • PK

    Great listening! Great excerpt! Thank you.

  • Sunny Stiklius

    I “discovered” Tito Gobbi when I was 13 years old, in the many Italian opera films that were shown at the Cinema Annex, a movie theater in the then heart of an Italian neighborhood on West Madison Street. I wrote to him, c/o La Scala and he or his agent replied, putting me in touch with the president of his fan club, with whom I corresponded for a few years. When I was 17 she told me he was coming to the Lyric to sing Scarpia in Tosca, and gave my name to him to allow me backstage after the performance. I took a friend and went, and Mr. Gobbi invited us to meet him, his wife and daughter at the old Morrison Hotel, from which we went to the Art Institute and then to dinner at the Italian Village. He was such a nice man, very jolly, which brought home to me his tremendous acting ability in a character such as that of Scarpia. I have pictures to prove all this. To this day, I am thrilled by the sound of his voice and am grateful for the many YT clips available. And as much as I enjoy hearing other baritones today, none in my mind ever match the voical and performance abilities of Tito Gobbi.

  • Michifer

    Grew up with his recordings of Tosca and Rigoletto, and imprinted on his voice so hard I still have trouble liking others in those roles. There were/are certainly more velvety, more beautiful baritone voices, but he was incredibly expressive and a great singing actor.