Tito Gobbi, Master-Singer: A Centenary Celebration documents the life of legendary singer/actor Tito Gobbi at the 100th anniversary of his birth. Before being trained as a singer, Gobbi studied law at the University of Padua. He made his operatic debut in Gubbio at age 22. This special airs Monday, April 28, 2014 at 8 p.m. on Classical 91.5.
Contributors for this special include: Soprano Renata Scotto, Bass-baritone Ruggero Raimondi, Conductor James Conlon, Former General Director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago William Mason, Former General Director of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Sir John Tooley, Former Opera Director at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Paul Findlay, and more. The documentary also includes Tito Gobbi in conversation with Studs Terkel, from the Archives of WFMT and the Chicago History Museum.
Tito Gobbi was born on October 24, 1913 in Bassano Del Grappa and studied law at the University of Padua before he trained as a singer. Giulio Crimi, a well-known Italian tenor of a previous generation, was Gobbi's teacher in Rome. He made his operatic debut in Gubbio in 1935 as Count Rudolfo in Bellini's La sonnambula. In 1942 he debuted at La Scala in Milan, in the role of Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore. He also appeared at the Rome Opera and other significant Italian venues.
Gobbi's international career blossomed after the Second World War, with appearances in 1948 at the San Francisco Opera. He performed for the first time at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1950 and sang with the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 1954 until 1974. 1974 also saw the last of Gobbi's numerous appearances at Covent Garden, where he had been much admired by the public and critics alike for his sensitive musicianship, as well as for his acting talent and interpretive insights.
In his early career he appeared in a number of motion pictures, including some filmed operas such as The Barber of Seville and also the popular 1948 British drama set in wartime Italy, The Glass Mountain. Tito Gobbi retired in 1979. By this juncture, he had acquired a repertoire of almost 100 operatic roles. They ranged from Figaro through Donizetti, and the standard Verdi and Puccini parts, to Wozzeck. By the time of his death in 1984 in Rome, he had appeared in some 25 films, in both singing and speaking parts.