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Giorgio Tozzi

Giorgio Tozzi

(January 8, 1923 - May 30, 2011)

 

Click here for recordings and performances by Giorgio Tozzi.

Giorgo Tozzi was a leading bass with the Metropolitan Opera for many years. He also played leading roles in nearly every major opera house worldwide.


He debuted as Tarquinius in the 1948 Broadway production of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia.

His signature roles were to become Figaro in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Phillip II in Verdi's Don Carlo, Hans Sachs in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Mephistopholes in Gounod's Faust.

In 1957 he portrayed Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov with the NBC Opera Theatre in a production which was broadcast and in 1958 he created the role of The Doctor in Samuel Barber's Vanessa.

During his career he won three Grammy's.

Best Classical Performance Operatic Award for The Marriage of Figaro with Erich Leinsdorf (1960) and Best Opera Recording for Puccini's Turandot, with Erich Leinsdorf (1961) the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for Georg Solti's recording of Verdi's Aida with Leontyne Price and Jon Vickers (1963).

He also sang the bass part for the Sir Thomas Beecham's recording of George Frederic Handel's Messiah in 1959.

Outside the opera theatre it was when he provided the voice for Rossano Brazzi in the 1958 film of Rogers & Hammerstein's South Pacific (in the role of Emile de Becque) that his name reached a wider audience when the LP soundtrack sold millions.

The part had already been a huge success for Ezio Pinza on the stage opposite Mary Martin - but the honour of recording the film sountrack went to Giorgo Tozzi (perhaps aided by the fact that Pinza was dead).

Although Brazzi was miffed at being dubbed Rogers & Hammerstein were particuarly sensitive about the role being done by "a real voice" after the lack of great success of the film of Oklahoma- and they insisted.

Thereafter, Giorgo Tozzi spent many years playing the role of de Becque himself onstage in various revivals and tours of the show- including a large production in the late 1960's at the Lincoln Center in New York.

In 1980, Giorgo Tozzi received a Tony award nomination for best leading actor in a musical for playing Tony in The Most Happy Fella.

His book, (a novel) The Golem of the Golden West was published in 1997.

He passed away in 2011 aged 88.

Click here for recordings and performances by Giorgio Tozzi.

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