(May 18, 1892 – May 9, 1957)
Ezio Pinza was an Italian basso opera singer with a beautifully rich sonorous voice.
He made his deubut at La Scala in 1922 under the direction of the brilliant but exacting conductor Arturo Toscanini.
In the seasons that followed, Pinza's career blossomed and he became a popular favourite of critics and audiences alike due to the very high quality of his singing and also having a powerful and attractive stage presence.
His debut at the Metropolitan Opera happened in 1926 in Spontini's La Vestale, with the very celebrated American soprano Rosa Ponselle in the title role.
In 1929, he sang Don Giovanni for the first time. It was to become a role he was closely identified with for the rest of his life.
He subsequently added Mozart'a Figaro (in 1940) and Sarastro (in 1942) to his repertoire, including a vast number of Italian operatic roles from Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi to Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov.
Outside the Met he sang at the Royal Opera House in London in 1930-1939, and at the Salzburg Festival in 1934-1937 under the German conductor Bruno Walter.
Pinza's repertoire consisted of some 95 classical roles. He spent no less than 22 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, and appeared in more than 750 performances of 50 operas. Pinza also sang to great acclaim at La Scala, Milan, and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
Upon retirement from the Met in 1948 he embarked on a second career in Broadway musicals.
In April 1949 he starred in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, originating the role of Emil de Becque, the character who sings "Some Enchanted Evening". It was a "big number" and well suited to his operatic-style. The show was a hit and so was the song and it turned him into a matinee idol and national Celebrity.
In 1950, he received a Tony Award for best lead actor in a musical.
It was a brilliant end to a brilliant career.
Ezio Pinza died of a stroke at the age of 64 in 1957 and a book of his memoirs was published a year later. Some trivia- all the water fountains at the old Metropolitan Opera House were dedicated to him.