(8 April 1921 – 29 October 2003)
Franco Corelli was a famous Italian heroic tenor who had a major international opera career between 1951 and 1976.
His matinee idol good looks and powerful performances made him one of the most revered singers of his age, often performing with other goliaths of the opera world such as Birgit Nilsson and Maria Callas.
Married to soprano Loretta di Lelio for 45 years, she gave up her own career to become his manager and publicist.
Their backstage fights in the dressing room were almost as famous as many of his incredibly committed performances.
His partnering with Birgit Nilsson in Puccini's Turandot became a series of legendary performances which they repeated in Italy and New York and his recordings of Cavaradossi in Tosca are frequently referred to as difinitive.
Despite having the power of being an heroic tenor his great breath control enabled him to sing with great expression and he could sing a long phrase holding the final note at the end until the audiences errupted. Numerous recordings bear witness to this- Trovatore's (with Leontyne Price...very much holding her own) recorded at the Met in the 60's and Toscas recorded at La Scala are testament to his very great singing.
Del Monaco the other great heroic tenor around the same time, despite his great power, could never compete with Corelli's colour, expressive tone and superb control of his instrument.
He died in Milan in 2003 aged 82 following a stroke.
Franco Corelli is one of the featured stars on our "Legends" product range.