Cesare Siepi, 1923 – 2010

Opera blogs and Tweeps are reporting that Cesare Siepi has passed away. He was 87 years old (born in 1923, like Maria Callas).

Though Siepi was a regular at Rudolf Bing’s Metropolitan Opera, he sang with Maria Callas some two dozen times, starting in 1948, with four performances as Padre Guardiano in Verdi’s La forza del destino, through the 1958 revival of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at La Scala.

Like Callas, Siepi was a versatile musician: In 1949 alone, he sang Gurnemanz to her Kundry in Wagner’s Parsifal and Erode to her Erodiade the younger in Stradella’s San Giovanni Battista.

A handsome man of noble bearing, Siepi was a gifted actor with a plush, ringing voice. His Salzburg Don Giovanni (under Wilhelm Furtwängler) is available on DVD. He was also a supreme Verdian, an arresting Mefistofele in Boito’s opera, and an admired recitalist and interpreter of popular songs in several languages.

A singer’s singer, Siepi was a rôle model for Ferruccio Furlanetto, one of today’s great basses, and for many other younger artists.

According to Wikipedia, Siepi sang professionally into the 1980s and perhaps later.

This musical excerpt is from a 1951 recording of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem led by Arturo Toscanini.

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