The beginning of the 20th century was also the beginning in the careers of a number of distinguished tenors headed by
Enrico Caruso. The most important among them were Giovanni Zenatello, Amedeo Bassi, Giuseppe Borgatti, Edoardo Garbin,
Rinaldo Grassi, Piero Schiavazzi, Giulio Crimi, Edoardo Ferrari-Fontana and Italo Cristalli. They were the first important
tenors to make use of the gramophone record as a document and for publicity; they inaugurated some of the great
contemporary theaters and were chosen for the premieres of many of
the operas of the "giovine scuola", the verismo. A place of honour among them is for the Florentine tenor Amedeo Bassi.
In RA format
Amedeo Bassi was born in Montespertoli (near Florence) on the 26th of July, 1872 (though Kutsch & Riemens mention the 29th
of July, 1874), studied singing with the Marchese Corrado Pavesi (other sources mention "Conservatorio Cherubini" in
Florence), and made his debut in Castelfiorentino in the opera "Ruy Blas" by Filippo Marchetti (1897). The month of his
debut must have been either October or early November. In November, he sang at the Arena (Florence) in "Rigoletto" and
In 1898 and 1899, he sang mostly in the "provinces", primarily in lyric roles such as des Grieux in "Manon","Faust", the
Duke in "Rigoletto" and Rodolfo in "La bohème". He was heard in Ravenna, Firenze, Livorno, Bologna, Pisa and Lecce.
Two rather unusual titles were the local premiere of "Nemea" (by Coop) and "La risurrezione di Lazzaro" (by
Lorenzo Perosi), both at the Teatro Pagliano in Firenze.
Conductor-composer Luigi Mancinelli was so pleased with his performances that he chose him for the local premiere of his
opera "Ero e Leandro" at the San Carlo in Naples (9 March 1900). (The
world premiere had been in Madrid in 1897.) He also appeared in "La bohème" (4 March) with Lina Cavalieri.
Like Caruso, he was one of the first performers of the role of Cavaradossi in "Tosca". In Genova (Politeama, October 1900)
he had to sing the third act aria (E lucevan le stelle) five times. He also sang in "La bohème" and in the world
premiere of "Medio evo latino" (17 November), an opera by the Argentinian composer-conductor Ettore Panizza.
In 1901, Pietro Mascagni chose him for the role of Florindo in the premiere of "Le maschere" at the Teatro Costanzi in
Rome, with Boninsegna, Adami and Corradetti, with the composer himself conducting. The opera was premiered simultaneously
in seven Italian theaters on January 17th. It is said that Bassi's performance was the best and contributed to the 22
performances that the opera had in Rome. (The opera was a total failure in all the other theaters, even though Enrico
Caruso sang it in Milan.) At the Costanzi, he sang also in "Mignon" (February 22) and for the first time the role of Loris
in "Fedora" (29 March) with Gemma Bellincioni and Ferruccio Corradetti. Loris would be one of the favourite roles in his
career. On April 13th, he was Carmine in the world premiere of "Lorenza", a new opera by Edoardo Mascheroni, with soprano
Gemma Bellincioni. In 1901, he also appeared in Pisa and Firenze.
In the autumn of 1901, he sang at the Teatro Ristori in Verona, in "Fedora" with Emma Carelli. He was the revelation of
"un nuovo tenore della voce meravigliosa e gagliarda, dalle inflessione elettrizzanti e che al canto superbo univa
già, un'interpretazione sincera e nuova." In December, he was singing at the Carlo Felice in Genova, in "Die
Königin von Saba" (Goldmark), in Italian of course, with Maria Farnetti and Carmen Bau Bonaplata; and in January 1902
"Lorenza", again with Bellincioni.
In 1902, Amedeo Bassi visited South America for the first time. He sang at the Teatro Politeama in Buenos Aires, from May
13th to August 7th, in "Fedora", "La bohème", "Rigoletto", "Cavalleria rusticana", "La Gioconda", "Khrysé"
(first performance of this opera by the Argentinian composer Arturo Berutti), "Tosca", "Mefistofele", "Linda di Chamounix"
and "Germania". His soprano in most of those operas was Emma Carelli. Bassi then traveled to Uruguay for a short season at
the Teatro Politeama in Montevideo, from September 2nd to 18th, singing "Fedora", "Tosca", "La bohème" and
"Cavalleria rusticana". It can really be said that in Argentina, Bassi started his successful international career.
Back in Italy, he sang "Germania" at the Comunale in Bologna in November, and at La Fenice in Venezia "Chopin" (by
Giacomo Orefice, 26 December, 10 performances), which was the local premiere. The world premiere had taken place the year
before, 25 November 1901, at the Teatro Lirico in Milan with tenor Giuseppe Borgatti.
In 1903, Bassi went to Russia, singing in St. Petersburg during January and February (Bohème, Faust, Ernani,
Traviata and Un ballo in maschera). His ladies were Sigrid Arnoldson, Luisa Tetrazzini and Elena Bianchini Cappelli, and
the baritones Giuseppe Kaschmann and Eugenio Giraldoni. In March and April, he sang in Odessa (Rigoletto, Linda di
Chamounix, La Gioconda, La traviata and Jevgenij Onegin). His main soprano was Maria Galvany, and Mattia Battistini was
Also in 1903, Bassi came for the first time to the Teatro Municipal in Santiago (Chile), singing from June 17th to October
20th, in "Tosca", "Fedora", "Adriana Lecouvreur" (first time in Chile), "La bohème", "Manon Lescaut", "Mefistofele",
"Faust", "Rigoletto", "Chopin" (first time in Chile), "Lorenza" (first time in Chile) and "Cavalleria rusticana". The cast
included sopranos Amedea Santarelli and Giuseppina Finzi-Magrini, baritone Enrico Nani and bass Luigi Nicoletti-Kormann.
He sang several of these operas also at the Teatro de la Victoria in Valparaíso.
After his successful season in Chile, Bassi made his debut at the Teatro Real in Madrid on December 9th, 1903 as Rodolfo
in "La bohème" with Emma Carelli. During that season 1903/1904, he also sang in "Mefistofele" (December 17th, with
Carelli and Andrés Perelló de Segurola), "Tosca" with Matilde De Lerma and Vincenzo Ardito (January 2nd),
"Rigoletto" (January 5th, with Maria Barrientos), "Ernani" (January 10th, with De Lerma and Ancona) and "Lucia di
Lammermoor" (January 19th, with Barrientos).
In February 1904, the tenor sang "Fedora" and "Siberia" at the Politeama in Genova. This last opera was one of his
favourites, and he sang it in the local premiere at the San Carlo in Naples (1904), in Santiago de Chile (1904), at the
Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris (1905), and at the Regio in Turin (1906).
In February/March 1904, he sang at the San Carlo in Naples, in "Tosca", "Fedora" and the "firsts" of "Adriana Lecouvreur"
and, as mentioned above, "Siberia" (March 9th, with Rina Giachetti, Francesco Maria Bonini and Oreste Luppi).
Bassi came to Buenos Aires again in 1904 for a season at the Teatro Politeama from April 9th to June 5th, singing in
"Tosca", "Fedora", "La Gioconda", "Rigoletto", "Faust", "Chopin", "Iris", "La bohème",and "Khrysé". The
co-stars in those performances were soprano Santarelli, baritone Riccardo Stracciari and basses Nicoletti-Kormann and
Gaudio Mansueto. Then the company sang at the Teatro Argentino (La Plata) and in Rosario, where he inaugurated the Teatro
Opera. He sang in Rosario from June 8th to 14th in the operas "La bohème", "Iris", "La Gioconda" and "Chopin", and
then went on to Montevideo where he sang in "Iris" and "La Gioconda" (18 and 19 June).
Then Amedeo Bassi came for the second time to Chile were he was unconditionally admired. He sang from July 7th to October
28th. In Santiago he was heard in "Tosca", "Fedora", "Rigoletto", "Chopin", "Faust", "Iris" (first time in Chile), "La
Gioconda", "Manon Lescaut" and "Siberia" (first time in Chile). His co-stars in Chile were the sopranos Maria
D'Arneiro and Maria Giudice, baritone Stracciari and basses Nicoletti-Kormann and Mansueto. At the Teatro de la Victoria
in Valparaíso, he sang the same repertoire with the same casts as in Santiago.
After the season in Chile, Amedeo Bassi made his debut at the Teatre del Liceu, in Barcelona, in "Tosca" (17 December,
with Carelli and Sammarco). He also sang in "Mefistofele" (23 December, with Carelli and Didur), "La bohème"
(8 January 1905, with Carelli and Darclée). At the "Serata d'Onore di Emma Carelli" (15 January) he sang in acts I,
II and IV of "La bohème" and in act II of "Tosca". His last role in Barcelona was Turiddu in "Cavalleria rusticana"
(2 February, with Maria Giudice). From Barcelona, Bassi went to Madrid and sang three performances of "La bohème"
(the first one on February 18th), with Matilde De Lerma.
In March 1905, Bassi sang at the Grand Théâtre of Monte Carlo in "Mefistofele" with Emma Calvé and
Fjodor Shaljapin (3 March). In May 1905, Bassi was hired by Edoardo Sonzogno for the now famous Italian season at the
Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris, and obtained a clamorous success in the Parisian first performances of
"Siberia" (4 May) with Amelia Pinto and Titta Ruffo, and "Andrea Chénier" (3 June) with Eva Tetrazzini and Mario
Sammarco. He also sang in a concert (22 May) and in "Chopin" (13 June with Adelina Stehle and Paolo Wulman). By the way,
the greatest success of the season was the première of "Fedora" with Lina Cavalieri and Enrico Caruso! On August
6th, 1905 he sang in "Mefistofele" in Orange, with Lina Cavalieri and Shaljapin.
Also in August 1905, Bassi came again to South America, this time to Brazil, singing successfully at the Teatro Lyrico in
Rio de Janeiro in "Werther", "La bohème" and "Tosca". Maria Farnetti was his leading soprano, and the conductor was
Luigi Mancinelli. Plans to sing in São Paulo failed, and Bassi returned to Europe.
He sang at the Politeama in Genova in "Siberia" (with Crestani and Bonini) and created the role of Chevalier d'Auvigny in
the world premiere of "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" by the Greek composer Spyros Samaras on November 8th, with Amelia Pinto
and Bari. Bassi sang only the first performance of this opera, and then Antonio Paoli sang the others.
His last visit to the Teatro Real in Madrid started with "Tosca" (from November 18th, with Maria D'Arneiro and Rina
Giacchetti sharing the title role, and baritones Blanchart and Sammarco as Scarpia). He sang nine performances of "Tosca".
Then he sang four performances of "La bohème" (from November 25th, with Lina Pasini Vitale), three performances of
"La Gioconda" (from December 6th, with Amelia Pinto and Ramon Blanchart), four performances of "Mefistofele" (from
December 23rd, with Pasini Vitale and basses Luigi Rossato and Gaudio Mansueto); three performances of "La damnation de
Faust" (from January 14th, 1906, with D'Arneiro and Blanchart) and three performances of "Manon Lescaut" (January 20th,
with Rina Giacchetti). In February, he was in Monte Carlo singing "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" with Lina
Cavalieri and Maurice Renaud. He returned to Italy to sing at the San Carlo in Naples. He sang in "Tosca", "Rigoletto",
"Amica" (by Mascagni, local premiere, with Elena Bianchini-Cappelli and Mario Sammarco), and "Tess" (by Baron
Frédéric d'Erlanger, role Angel Clare, world premiere on April 9th, with Rina Giacchetti and Sammarco,
Also in 1906, Amedeo Bassi sang at the Teatro Regio in Parma the role of Vassili in Giordano's "Siberia" (3 March) with
Lucia Crestani and conductor Arturo Toscanini. On April 15th, he made his second and last visit to the Liceu in Barcelona,
to sing two performances of "Tosca" with Darclée and Blanchart.
The same year he came for the last time to Chile. It was a season from June 26th to October 29th at the Teatro Municipal
in Santiago. He sang in "Manon Lescaut", "La Gioconda", "Iris", "Tosca", "Mefistofele", "Chopin", "La damnation de Faust",
"Faust", "Germania " (first time in Chile) and "Amica" (first time in Chile). His sopranos were Adelina Agostinelli and
Amelia Pinto, the baritones were Enrico Nani and Ernesto Badini and basses Nazzareno De Angelis and Luigi
Nicoletti-Kormann. He also sang at the Teatro de la Victoria in Valparaíso in "Manon Lescaut", "Tosca" and "Iris". In the evening of August 16th, while Bassi was in Santiago preparing
himself for "Tosca", a terrible earthquake took place in Valparaíso (it reduced the Teatro de la Victoria to ashes),
but it was strongly felt also in Santiago. Artists and audience ran to the streets, where the terrified people asked the
chorus still dressed as priests and bishops for their blessings and spiritual assistance.
Oscar Hammerstein engaged Bassi for his inaugural season (1906/07) at the Manhattan Opera House in New York. He made his
debut on December 19th, 1906 in "Aida" with Giannina Russ and Mario Ancona. Later he was heard in "La traviata" (with
Nellie Melba and Maurice Renaud), in "Les huguenots" (with Russ and Ancona), in "Pagliacci" (with Pauline Donalda and
Mario Sammarco), in "Un ballo in maschera" (with Russ and Sammarco), in "Faust" (with Russ and Sammarco), and closed his
first season with Verdi's "Requiem" (29 March 1907, with Russ, de Cisneros and Arimondi).
In 1907 (June/July), he made his debut at London's Covent Garden, singing in "Loreley" (local premiere), "Germania",
"Bohème", "Tosca", "Madama Butterfly", "Pagliacci", "Aida", "Un ballo in maschera" and "Faust". He shared the roles
of Canio, Riccardo and Cavaradossi with Enrico Caruso, and Rodolfo with Alessandro Bonci.
On September 14th, 1907 at the Teatro Regio in Parma, he sang the role of Federico Loewe in "Germania" with Zeppilli and
Sammarco. In October 1907 he returned to Covent Garden (a second season in the same year, from October 3rd to November
30th), singing with Rina Giachetti and Giuseppe De Luca in "Madama Butterfly", "La bohème" and "Tosca". He was also
heard in "Pagliacci", "Faust", "Germania" and "Aida".
His second season at the Manhattan (1907/08) started on December 9th, 1907 with "Pagliacci". Later in the season, he sang
the tenor roles in "Ernani", "Rigoletto", "Faust", "Aida", "La traviata" (with Luisa Tetrazzini), "Cavalleria rusticana",
"Siberia" and "Andrea Chénier" (with Eva Tetrazzini and Mario Sammarco).
In 1908, Amedeo Bassi went again to Argentina. He "opened" the new Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires on May 25th, 1908
with "Aida" (wih Lucia Crestani). During that season, he sang also in "Mefistofele" (with Maria Farnetti and Fjodor
Shaljapin), "Madama Butterfly" (with Farnetti), "Pagliacci" (with Titta Ruffo), "Tosca" (with Ruffo), "Rigoletto" (with
Ruffo), and created the role of Mariano in "Aurora" (by Ettore Panizza, world premiere on September 5th, with Farnetti and
Ruffo), and "Paolo e Francesca" by Luigi Mancinelli (local premiere). The success of Bassi was great, mainly in "Aurora",
where he was forced to repeat "L'inno alla bandiera", something rarely seen at the Teatro Colón.
He sang in Naples during the season 1908/09 in "Aida", "Gloria" (by Cilea, with Carelli and Ancona) and "Cavalleria
In 1909, Bassi sang, at the Costanzi in Rome, the title role in "Andrea Chénier" (February 2nd) with Giachetti and
Domenico Viglione-Borghese. The same year, he sang for the first time at La Scala, as Arrigo in "I vespri siciliani"
(21 February, 7 performances) with Ester Mazzoleni, Riccardo Stracciari and Nazzareno De Angelis, as Paolo in "Paolo e
Francesca" (10 March, 3 performances) with Mazzoleni and Taurino Parvis, and as des Grieux in "Manon Lescaut" (20 March, 8
performances) with Amelia Karola/Ersilde Cervi Caroli and Stracciari.
On May 13th, 1909 he returned to the San Carlo for the world premiere of "La cena del signore" by Paul Hartmann, with
Carelli, Galeffi and the author conducting. There were four performances of that symphonic-choral work.
In 1910, Pietro Mascagni chose him for a new version of Verdi's "Don Carlo" at the Opera di Roma (January 29th) with
Giannina Russ, Giuseppe De Luca and Carlo Walter in the other main roles and Mascagni himself as conductor. Then he was in
Milan at La Scala to sing the role of
Vasco de Gama in "L'Africaine" (13 March) with Mazzoleni, Linda Cannetti, Viglione-Borghese and De Angelis. Still in 1910,
he was heard at the San Carlo for the last time and only in "La bohème".
At the end of the year, on November 3rd, Bassi inaugurated another theater, the Civic Opera in Chicago, with "Aida"
(with Janina Korolewicz-Waydowa and Sammarco). In his first season in Chicago, he was also heard in "Pagliacci", "Tosca",
"Bohème" and "Traviata" (both with Melba and Sammarco), "Madama Butterfly" (with Geraldine Farrar and Antonio
Scotti) and the local premiere of "La fanciulla del West" (27 December, with Carolina White, and Maurice Renaud and Mario
Sammarco alternating as Rance). From December 30th to April 1st, 1911, Bassi sang with the Chicago company on a tour to
several American cities: Milwaukee, St. Louis, St. Paul, Philadelphia and Baltimore. He sang mainly "La fanciulla del
West", but was also casted in performances of "Aida", "Pagliacci", "Lucia", "Tosca", "Huguenots", "Bohème",
"Madama Butterfly" and "Rigoletto".
In 1911, Bassi was also hired by the Boston Opera Co. to sing one performance each of "Manon Lescaut" (22 February, with
Melis and Fornari) and "La fanciulla del West" (4 March, with Carolina White and Giovanni Polesi).
Amedeo Bassi, like his contemporary and illustrious colleague Giovanni Zenatello, was never engaged by the Metropolitan
Opera. However, when Caruso was ill, Bassi was called for three performances of "La fanciulla del West" with the cast of
the world premiere: Emmy Destinn, Pasquale Amato and Arturo Toscanini. The first performance was at the house on March 2nd,
1911, the second at Brooklyn's Academy of Music on March 18th, and the last one at the house, on March 27th, 1911.
May 1911 was also his second and last season in London. He was heard in "La fanciulla del West" (29 May, the first
performance of the opera in Europe) with Emmy Destinn and Dinh Gilly, "La bohème" (with Melba), "Madama Butterfly"
(with Destinn) and "Aida" (with Destinn). He returned on June 26th for the "Coronation Gala" of George V, singing act 2
from "Aida" with Destinn, Kirkby Lunn and Gilly.
On June 12th, 1911 Amedeo Bassi had the honour of singing in the Italian premiere of "La fanciulla del West" that took
place at the Costanzi in Rome, with Eugenia Burzio and Pasquale Amato, and with Toscanini on the podium.
The second season in Chicago (1911/12) started for Bassi on November 12th singing "Pagliacci" in Philadelphia, on November
15th "Lucia" (with Tetrazzini and Sammarco), in the same city "La traviata" on November 18th (again with Tetrazzini and
Sammarco). On November 21st in Cleveland, "Lucia" with the same artists and finally, in Chicago on November 24th, once
more "Lucia", once more with Tetrazzini and Sammarco. With the same artists, Bassi sang "Traviata" (28 November) and
"Rigoletto" (30 November). A new role for Bassi was Gérald in "Lakmé". He sang it in Chicago with Tetrazzini
and Crabbé on December 6th. There was then one "Lucia" on December 11th at the Music Hall in Cincinnati, and on
December 16th another "Traviata" in Chicago, this time with Alice Zeppilli and baritone Alfredo Costa. The season in
Chicago finished for Bassi with another new role, Don José in "Carmen" that he sang on
January 3rd, 1912 with Mary Garden, Alice Zeppilli and Armand Crabbé, and the role of Gennaro in "I gioielli della
Madonna" (by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari) on January 16th, with Carolina White and Mario Sammarco. It was not only the first
American performance of that opera, but also the first in Italian language anywhere. There were six performances, from
January 20th to March 25th, 1912. Amedeo Bassi made the tour with the Chicago Opera Company singing in St. Paul, Cleveland,
Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City and Washington D.C. He sang his usual repertory, namely "I gioielli della Madonna".
An unusual title was "I dispettosi amanti" (A lovers' quarrel) by Attilio
Parelli, where he sang the role of Florindo in its world premiere in Philadelphia, on March 6th, with Zeppilli and
In 1912, he visited Argentina for the last time to sing at the Teatro Colón in what has been called "the Toscanini
season". He sang "Aida" (24 May, five performances) with Cecilia Gagliardi and Pasquale Amato, "Germania" (22 June, five
performances) with Gagliardi and Amato and "Königskinder" (by Engelbert Humperdinck, 20 August, three performances),
a local premiere sung in Italian, with Lucrezia Bori and Giuseppe De Luca, all conducted by Toscanini.
By the end of the year, he was again singing in Italy. There were some performances of "Tosca" at the Politeama Fiorentino
in Florence (31 December) with Eugenia Burzio, Taurino Parvis and conductor Leopoldo Mugnone.
In April 1913, he sang for the first time at the Opéra (Palais Garnier) in Paris. He made his debut in "Rigoletto"
(7 April) and then sang in "Aida". On June 5th, he sang also at the Opéra-Comique, in "Tosca" with Fausta Labia and
Eugenio Giraldoni, and later at the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen, "Aida". He sang at the Regio in Parma for the
Verdi centennial in "Don Carlo" (5 October) with Giannina Russ and Giuseppe Danise, the conductor was Cleofonte Campanini.
He went again to America for his third season in Chicago (1913/14). Before going to Chicago proper, Bassi sang with the
company in Philadelphia: "Pagliacci" (13 November, with Ruffo); "La Gioconda" (17 November, with White and Ruffo) and
"Cristoforo Colombo" (by Franchetti, 20 November, with Raisa and Ruffo). The season in Chicago started on November 24th
with "Tosca" (with Mary Garden and Vanni Marcoux). His other operas that season were "Madama Butterfly" (with Zeppilli),
"Aida" (with Rosa Raisa), "Fanciulla del West" (with Carolina White), "Cristoforo Colombo" (with Rosa Raisa and Titta
Ruffo), "I gioielli della Madonna" (with White), "Gli zingari" (by Leoncavallo, role Radu, with White) in double bill with
"Pagliacci" (with Ruffo), "Trovatore" (with Schumann-Heink), "Bohème" (with Frances Alda and Nellie Melba
alternating as Mimì), and finally one performance of "I dispettosi amanti" (by Attilio Parelli, 29 January 1914).
After the season in Chicago, the company visited several cities from February 2nd to April 22nd: Philadelphia, New York
City, Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, St. Louis and St. Paul.
In February/March 1915, Bassi was singing at the Politeama in Firenze, "Manon Lescaut" with Muzio (from February 25th).
There was no opera season in Chicago in 1914/15.
His fourth and last season in Chicago (1915/16) started with "La Gioconda" on November 15th (with Emmy Destinn and Mario
Ancona). He sang later in "La bohème" (with Melba), in "Tosca" (with Farrar/Melis), in "Madama Butterfly" (with
Farrar/Melis), in "I gioielli della Madonna" (with Louise Edvina), in "Aida" (with Melis), in "Zazà" (with Melis),
and closed his association with Chicago participating in a "Gran Gala" on January 21st, 1916. He sang in the second act of
"Aida" (with Melis and Ancona) and in "Cavalleria rusticana" (with Melis and Federici).
In March 1916, he went to Paris to sing for the second time at the Opèra (Palais Garnier) in "La fanciulla del
West", with Carmen Melis and Domenico Viglione-Borghese. He was also heard in the third act of "Aida" and fourth act of
"Manon Lescaut" with Melis and Jean Noté (12 March), and the second act of "Fanciulla" and fourth act of "Il
trovatore" (16 March). At the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen, he sang "Tosca" with Melis on March 23rd, and in
December he sang "Tosca" at the Comunale in Bologna, with Tina Poli-Randaccio and Eugenio Giraldoni.
In 1917, Bassi sang again at the Costanzi (3 January) in "La fanciulla del West" with Carmen Melis and Taurino Parvis, and
at La Scala in January and February, ten performances of "Siberia" and eight of "Tosca", both operas with Gilda Dalla
Rizza and Giuseppe Danise. From March 9th, 1918 there were performances of "La fanciulla del West" at the Teatro della
Pergola in Firenze, with Elsa Raccanelli, and from May 18th, seven performances of "Tosca" at the Politeama in Livorno.
On December 21st, 1918 Bassi sang at the Costanzi in Rome, in the revival of "Don Carlo" (ten performances) with Giannina
Russ, Carlo Galeffi and Giulio Cirino, Gino Marinuzzi conductor.
In 1919, he sang "Pagliacci" at La Pergola in Firenze (8 February) and at the Costanzi (14 May) with Gina Viganò
and Benvenuto Franci. He was also heard at the Regio in Parma as "Siegfried" (27 December, 16 performances) with Teresina
Burchi, Fanny Anitúa, Pavel Ludikar and conductor Panizza.
Like the renowned tenors Giuseppe Borgatti and Edoardo Ferrari-Fontana before him, from the end of 1919 until the end of
his operatic career in 1926, Amedeo Bassi became a successful Wagnerian tenor (always in Italian translation).
In 1920 (March 6th), Bassi sang at the Regio in Parma, the prologue of "Götterdämmerung" with Burchi, Vornos,
Massa and Scaramelli. During the season 1920/21, he was heard at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, in nine performances of
"Siegfried" and eleven of "Tristan und Isolde", with Turchetti, Capuana, Cigada and Di Lelio.
In 1921, he sang again at the Regio in Parma (from February 2nd), twelve performances of "Tristan und Isolde" with Elena
Rakowska, Giuseppe Noto, Maria Capuana and conductor Tullio Serafin, and on March 31st, he sang Tristan at the
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, with Rakowska, Capuana, Noto and Quinzi-Tapergi.
In 1922 (starting on January 5th), Amedeo Bassi sang at La Scala in Milan, eleven performances of "Parsifal" with Helene
Wildbrunn, Carlo Galeffi/Apollo Granforte, Nazzareno De Angelis and conductor Panizza. Also in 1922, Bassi sang in Paris,
at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, in "Tristan und Isolde" (22 May) with Rakowska, Capuana, Cigada,
Quinzi-Tapergi, and in "Parsifal" (28 May) with Rakowska, Granforte, De Angelis and Tullio Serafin as conductor. At the
Costanzi, Bassi sang the main role in "Siegfried" (26 December) with María Llacer and Otto Klemperer conducting.
"He who has seen and heard Bassi as Siegfried, lying under a tree in the whispering forest, dreaming of
his unknown mother, and heard his wild question after Mime's exit will remember poetry that can never return." (Augusto
Carelli, brother of soprano Emma Carelli)
In 1923, Amedeo Bassi sang "Tristan und Isolde" at the Costanzi (20 February) with Lucy Weidt and Vittorio Gui conducting.
On December 26th, he sang the role of Licinio in "La vestale" (by Gaspare Spontini) with Maria Carena, Giannina
Arangi-Lombardi, Tancredi Pasero and the Chilean baritone Carlo Morelli, at the Costanzi.
In 1924, Bassi sang for the last time at the Costanzi. He was heard in a new role, Herodes, in Richard Strauss' "Salome"
(2 February). There were eight performances of that opera, which was sung in Italian, with Carmen Melis and Genevieve Vix
sharing the title role, Carlo Morelli as Jochanaan; the composer conducted. Then he was Siegfried in
"Götterdämmerung" (26 February) with Teresina Burchi, Enrico Molinari and Tancredi Pasero.
"Il grande tenore Bassi fu un Sigfrido impetuoso ed ardente e, specie nel terzo atto, dove seppe
trascinare l'uditorio all'applauso piú caloroso e convinto, non teme alcun possible confronto."
At La Scala from November 16th, 1924, he was heard as Loge in "Rheingold" with Eva Turner, Rina Agozzino, Ernesto Badini,
Nazzareno De Angelis and Vittorio Gui as conductor.
His last season at La Scala was 1925/26. He was heard in the title role of "Siegfried" in four performances from January
30th, 1926. Other singers were Lily Hafgren, Leonora Corona and Marcel Journet, and the conductor was Ettore Panizza.
On May 15th, 1926 he sang one performance of "Tristan und Isolde" at the Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna, win María
Llacer, Irene Minghini-Cattaneo, Luigi Rossi-Morelli and Salvatore Baccaloni, and then at
the Politeama in Firenze his last opera performance in "Siegfried" with soprano Helm-Sbisa and Umberto Di Lelio.
His operatic career was over, but he sang in concerts until 1940.
On October 23rd, 1926 Amedeo Bassi was the witness in the wedding of Luisa Tetrazzini (55) and Pietro Vernati (32) that
took place at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Afterwards, in the reception at the Hotel Savoy, they sang together "O
soave fanciulla" from Puccini's "La bohème".
As usually happens with most singers of the period, it is hard to imagine how was the real voice of Bassi. We only have
the records he left (not too many and not to happily recorded). But I have copied some opinions that appeared in "Il
teatro illustrato", signed by Giovanni Borelli:
"Timbro incisivo, gagliardia atta a sorreggere il peso delle tessiture più azzardate ... squisiti
portamenti legati e soavi smorzature idilliache."
"Se non uno straordinario volume materiale c'era una gagliarda resistenza di smalto e di membratura vocale; quella che
occorre a resistere alle grande tessiture sfogate tipo 'Aida'."
This is the complete list of Bassi's world premieres:
1900, 17 November, Genova – Politeama Genovese – "Medio evo latino" (Ettore Panizza),
roles: Il bardo, Il menestrello, Il poeta
1901, 17 January, Roma – Teatro Costanzi – "Le maschere" (Pietro Mascagni),
1901, 13 April Roma – Teatro Costanzi – "Lorenza" (Edoardo Mascheroni),
1902, 20 June, Buenos Aires – Teatro Politeama – "Khrysé" (Arturo Berutti),
1905, 8 November, Genova – Politeama Genovese – "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" (Spyros
Samaras), role: Chevalier d'Aubigny
1906, 9 April, Napoli – Teatro San Carlo – "Tess" (Fréderic d'Erlanger),
role: Angel Clare
1908, 5 September, Buenos Aires – Teatro Colón – "Aurora" (Ettore Panizza),
1909, 13 May, Napoli – Teatro San Carlo – "La cena del signore" (Paul Hartmann);
not an opera, but a symphonic/choral work
1912, 6 March, Philadelphia – Academy of Music – "I dispettosi amanti" (Attilio Parelli),
Even though none of these operas is heard today (with the exception of "Aurora" from time to time in Argentina), Bassi
also sang in many operas created at his time by tenors like Caruso, Borgatti, De Lucia and Zenatello, and made those roles
successful in his own voice: "Iris", "Fedora", "Adriana Lecouvreur", "Germania", "Siberia", "Amica", "Chopin", "Tosca",
"La fanciulla del West", and "Andrea Chénier" to mention some at random.
During the last ten years of his life, Amedeo Bassi was a member of the jury in the singing contests in Florence. He is
credited for discovering the voices of Giulietta Simionato and Giulio Neri (1933) and Ferruccio Tagliavini (1938). Bassi
gave lessons to Tagliavini, to British tenor Benvenuto Finelli (born Bennett Fynn) and to Caroline Unger.
It seems that Bassi was happily married and had two sons:
"Ha avuto la fortuna di sposare una donna intelligente e una perfetta musicista, che è stata per
lui una vera collaborazione ... padre di due bei bimbi (Ugo e Mario)"
"Il teatro illustrato", 15–20 April 1906
It is also said that he owned several "palazzo homes" in and around Florence.
Amedeo Bassi died in Florence on the January 14th, 1949. His voice has been preserved on 40 sides:
Pathé (Paris, 1904), 16 sides with piano accompaniment. Very interesting recordings from "Siberia", "Chopin" and
"Andrea Chénier". Fonotipia (Milan, 1906), 10 sides with piano accompaniment. Very
interesting recordings from "Tess", "Siberia", "Fedora" (the composer at the piano), plus Giordano's "Canzone guerresca"
(again the composer accompanying). Pathé (Milan, 1912), 12 sides with orchestra. Beautiful rendition of the Inno
alla bandiera from "Aurora" (a creator's record!). Interesting recordings from "Lombardi", "Mefistofele" and "Fanciulla
del West". Finally he recorded two sides (Manon Lescaut and Pagliacci) for "Disco Paradiso" (I assume in Milan about 1912).
A curious fact is that his grandson was the famous Italian movie star Rossano Brazzi. He filmed part of his movie "Il
rubamento" at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, perhaps thinking of his grandfather that had inaugurated the
theater in 1908 and was so much loved in South America.
The author expresses his gratitude to Tom Kaufman, Jaume Tribó and Bob Rideout who gave very important information
on Bassi's career. It would have been very difficult to complete this article without their kind cooperation.
Juan Dzazópulos E.
In RA format
In RA format
I wish to thank Julian Philip Myerscough for the recording (Fedora).
Ruy Blas – Castelfiorentino, 1897 (from Celletti's Grandi Voci)
Rigoletto – Firenze, Arena, November 1897
Lucrezia Borgia – Firenze, Arena, November 1897
Manon – Ravenna, Alighieri, May 1898
La bohème – Firenze, Pagliano, 8? January 1897
Nemea – Firenze, Pagliano, 17 March 1898
Faust – Firenze, Pagliano, 12 November 1898
Rissurezione di Lazzaro (composer: Perosi) – Firenze, Pagliano, 6 December 1898
Ero e Leandro – Napoli, San Carlo, 9 March 1900
Tosca – Genova, Politeama, October 1900
Medio evo latino (composer: Panizza) – Genova, Politeama, 17 November 1900
Le maschere – Roma, Costanzi, 17 January 1901
Mignon – Roma, Costanzi, 22 February 1901
Fedora – Roma, Costanzi, 29 March 1901
Lorenza – Roma, Costanzi, 13 April 1901
La traviata – Firenze, Verdi, 3 October 1901
La regina di Saba – Genova, Carlo Felice, 26 December 1901
La Gioconda – Buenos Aires, Politeama, 5 June 1902
Khrysé (composer: Beruti) – Buenos Aires, Politeama, 20 June 1902
Cavalleria rusticana – Buenos Aires, Politeama, 29 June 1902
Linda di Chamounix – Buenos Aires, Politeama, 1 July 1902
Germania – Bologna, Comunale, 2 November 1902
Chopin – Venezia, Fenice, 26 December 1902
Ernani – St. Petersburg, Gande Salle du Conservatoire, 3 February 1903
Un ballo in maschera – St. Petersburg, February 1903
Jevgenij Onegin – Odessa, Russian Theater, 7 April 1903
Adriana Lecouvreur – Santiago, Municipal, summer 1903
Manon Lescaut – Santiago, Municipal, summer 1903
Mefistofele – Santiago, Municipal, summer 1903
Lucia di Lammermoor – Madrid, Real, 15 January 1904
La favorita – Madrid, Real, 21 January 1904
Siberia – Genova, Felice, February 1904
Iris – Buenos Aires, Politeama, 11 May 1904
Andrea Chénier – Madrid, Real, 3 June 1905
Madamigella di Belle Isle – Genova, Politeama, 8 November 1905
La damnation de Faust – Madrid Real, 14 January 1906
Amica – Napoli, San Carlo, 15 March 1906
Tess – Napoli, San Carlo, 9 April 1906
Les huguenots – New York, Manhattan, 18 January 1907
Pagliacci – New York, Manhattan, 1 February 1907
Madama Butterfly – London, Covent Garden, 3 October 1907
Aida – London, Covent Garden, fall 1907
Paolo e Francesca – Buenos Aires, 4 July 1908
Aurora – Buenos Aires, 5 September 1908
Gloria – Napoli, San Carlo, 13 January 1908
I vespri siciliani – Milano, Scala, 21 February 1909
La cena del signore (composer: Hartmann) – Napoli, San Carlo, 13 May 1909
Don Carlo – Roma, Costanzi, 29 January 1910
L'Africaine – Milano, Scala, 13 March 1910
La fanciulla del West – Chicago, Civic Opera, 17 December 1910
Lakmé – Chicago, Civic Opera, 6 December 1911
I gioelli della Madonna – Chicago, Civic Opera, 16 January 1912
I dispettosi amanti (composer: Parelli) – Philadelphia, Opera, 6 March 1912
Cristoforo Colombo – Philadelphia, Opera, 20 November 1913
Gli zingari – Chicago, Civic Opera, 19 December 1913
Il trovatore – Chicago, Civic Opera, 25 December 1913
Zazà – Chicago, Civic Opera, 17 January 1916
Siegfried – Torino, Regio, 27 December 1919
Tristan und Isolde – Trieste, Verdi, early 1920
Parsifal – Milano, Scala, 5 January 1922
La vestale – Roma, Costanzi, 26 December 1923
Salome – Roma, Costanzi, 2 February 1924
Götterdämmerung – Roma, Costanzi, 26 Feburary 1924
Rheingold – Milano, Scala, 16 November 1924
I wish to thank Tom Kaufman for providing help with the repertory.
Pathé, Paris, May 1905
4230 Siberia: T'incontrai per via 4230, 10005
4231 Tosca: E lucevan le stelle 4231
4232 Occhi di fata (Denza) 4232, 10307
4233 Rigoletto: Questa o quella 4233, 10287
4234 I lombardi: La mia letizia 4234, 10287
4235 Chopin: O mia Polonia 4235, 10151
4236 Chopin: Io sono un fior 4236, 10151
4237 Fedora: Amor ti vieta 4237
4338 La bohème: In povertà mia lieta 4238, 10150
4239 Andrea Chénier: Improvviso 4239, 10150
4240 Andrea Chénier: Come un bel dì 4240, 10005
4241 Tosca: Recondita 4241, 10307
4242 La bohème: O dolci mani 4242
4243 Andrea Chénier: Si fui soldato 4243, 10006
4244 La bohème: Chi son 4244, 12569
4260 La bohème: O Mimì (w. Titta Ruffo) 4260, 12569, 0559
Fonotipia, Milano, 12 April 1906
xPh 1742 Tosca: E lucevan le stelle unpublished
Fonotipia, Milano, 18 April 1906
xPh 1795 Rigoletto: Questa o quella unpublished
Fonotipia, Milano, 20 April 1906
xPh 1798 Tess: Stanotte ho fatto un sogno unpublished
xPh 1798-2 Tess: Stanotte ho fatto un sogno 39651
xPh 1799 Tess: Il sogno è la coscienza unpublished
xPh 1799-2 Tess: Il sogno è la coscienza 39652
xPh 1800 Tosca: Recondita armonia unpublished
xPh 1801 Tess: Tutti mattina unpublished
xPh 1804 Siberia: Orride steppe 39643
xPh 1805 Siberia: T'incontrai per via 39644
xPh 1806 Fedora: Amor ti vieta 39727
Fonotipia, Milano, 5 May 1906
xPh 1855 Canzone guerresca 39726
xPh 1855-2 Canzone guerresca 39726
Fonotipia, Milano, 8 June 1906
xPh 3901 Pagliacci: Vesti la giubba unpublished
xPh 3902 Tosca: Recondita armonia unpublished
Disco Paradiso, Milano, about 1912
101 Manon Lescaut: Tra voi belle 93386
102 Pagliacci: Arioso 93913
Pathé, Milano, April 1913
86386 Rigoletto: La donna è mobile 86386, 10007, 0523
86387 Tosca: E lucevan le stelle 86387, 10007, 0523
86388 Pagliacci: Vesti la giubba 86388, 10113, 80012
86389 Occhi di fata (Denza) 86389, 10148
86390 La fanciulla del West: Ch'ella mi creda 86390, 10008
86391 Aurora: Alta en el cielo 86391, 80013, Herrold 501
86392 Mefistofele: Giunto sul passo 86392, 10008
86393 I lombardi: La mia letizia 86393, 10148
86394 Tosca: Recondita armonia 86394, 10307
86395 Grido di guerra (Giordano) 86395
86396 Manon Lescaut: Tra voi belle 86396, 10113, 80012
86397 Manon Lescaut: Donna non vidi mai 86397, 80013
Edison, New York City, November 1913
2577-A Mia sposa sarà la mia bandiera (Rotoli) unpublished
2578-A La fanciulla del West: Ch'ella mi creda unpublished
Additions to the discography from Gesellschaft für historische Tonträger, Wien