Gino Lo Russo-Toma

9 July 1928 Bisceglie – 12 October 2000 Turi
After his classical studies, Lo Russo-Toma moved to Rome so as to study singing, and at the same time German and French. From maestro Mario Cusmich, he learns the use of the mask and later, from maestro Giovanni Semprini, l'appoggio sul diaframma. We are in 1948, three years after the war had ended and two years after the Italian republic had been created.

After perfecting his technique in Milano, Lo Russo-Toma made his debut in Rigoletto, and soon after in Cavalleria rusticana with Maria Caniglia. The Maria Caniglia book does not list this performance nor a concert with Lo Russo-Toma, while we have a picture of the two of them in concert.

This is the start of a career of more than 40 years, singing in almost all major opera houses in Europe: Netherlands (Rigoletto at the Stadsschouwburg in Breda on October 11th, 1969, with Franco Pagliazzi/Giuseppe Lamacchia/Giuseppe Forgione, Tzenka Arcinkowa/Olimpia Lattuada, Gino Belloni, Rina Finotti/Adriana Allinovi Pirali, Mario Mattioti, Manrico De Tura/Lajos Vasadi-Balogh, sharing the role of the Duca with Giovanni Cuneo and Dinio Mamprin; La bohème at the Stadsschouwburg Eindhoven in October 1970, with Giuseppe Lamacchia, Luciano Olmi, Gino Belloni, Anna Maria Antollini/Isabelle Fité/Nelly Pucci, Giovanna Santelli/Olimpia Lattuada, Lajos Vasadi-Balogh/Ivan Polidori, sharing the role of Rodolfo with Carlo Piccini and Antonio Liviero), Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium (Ghent, Rigoletto at the Théâtre Royal on February 26th, 1971 with Hilda de Groote, Claude Cléry , Yola de Gruyter, L. de Groote, Marco Stecchi, Claude Berger, Anton Haeck and Jef Nachtergaele), Denmark, France, Greece, etc., and the Middle East: Israel, State National Opera in Tel Aviv, where he sang nine operas in over one hundred performances.

In Japan, Lo Russo-Toma sang at the "Bunka Kai Kan Hall" in Tokyo in Madama Butterfly with Maria Bieşu during a worldwide Madame Butterfly competition.

In Nagasaki and Osaka, Lo Russo-Toma performed with Maria Callas and other established artists, under the baton of Franz Allers: the performances were recorded and transmitted by Nippon Television. Those performances are not listed in the very detailed chronology of Maria Callas by Frank Hamilton, but similar to Caniglia above, the two artists were actually pictured together in Tokyo.

He has participated in numerous festivals, including that of Bregenz.

He had a repertory of about 40 operas and about 30 oratorios/vocal music/chamber music.

For Radio Vatican, Lo Russo-Toma recorded the world premiere of the Oratorio "Romae lapurdum resonat" by Monsignor Caselli presented to Pope John XXIII and several cardinals. He recorded, in the St. Rita basilica in Milan, the Messa di gloria by Pietro Mascagni. An album considered historically significant by music critics, and distributed throughout Italy, North and South America. He also sang the same mass in front of Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo.

In Bari, Lo Russo-Toma often performed at the Petruzzelli, Piccinni and the Accademia Polifonica conducted by maestro Biagio Grimaldi.

Lo Russo-Toma dedicated himself successfully to vocal teaching until the end of 1999, when two thugs assaulted him while robbing his house. He died the next year on October 12th in Turi.

His wife, the mezzosoprano Angela Lisco, wrote his biography Sono venuto per cantare published in July 2007. In that book, she tells about his encounters with Beniamino Gigli, Maria Caniglia, Mario Del Monaco, Tito Schipa, Maria Callas, etc

The music critic, Nicholas Sbisà, wrote in one of his reviews: "... over nearly half a century, I met – and also heard, obviously – Lo Russo-Toma, whom I recall with a clear, ringing and expressive voice. And reading the volume by Lisco, it was like going back in time and relive the unforgettable moments of musical fervor in our city (Bari) and beyond. (...) a significant volume and an interesting one due to the fervent efforts of Angela Lisco, recalling that his personality and work have added a significant element to the rich history of music in Puglia."

The town of Turi, on October 12th, 2008, awarded him the Honoured Citizen title.

Lo Russo-Toma was also a painter who can be considered self-taught, a creator of a new kind of expression called "pittura psicoformale", which he exhibited in various cities in Italy and abroad.
Reference 1
Reference 2

Gino Lo Russo-Toma sings Rigoletto: Questa o quella

Gino Lo Russo-Toma sings Rigoletto: È il sol dell'anima, with Hilda De Groote

Gino Lo Russo-Toma sings Rigoletto: Parmi veder

Gino Lo Russo-Toma sings Rigoletto: Bella figlia dell'amore, with Hilda De Groote, Claude Cléry and Marco Stecchi

Gino Lo Russo-Toma sings Rigoletto: La donna è mobile
In RA format

Go Home