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Giorgio Ronconi (6 August 1810 - 8 January 1890) was an Italian operatic baritone celebrated for his brilliant acting and compelling stage presence. In 1842, he created the title-role in Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco at La Scala, Milan.

Career

Eugenia Tadolini, Carlo Guasco and Giorgio Ronconi in the final scene of Donizetti's Maria di Rohan at its world premiere in Vienna.

Ronconi was born in Milan and had been taught to sing by his father, Domenico, who was a leading tenor. He made his operatic debut at Pavia in 1831, as Valdeburgo in Bellini's La straniera, and went on to sing at La Scala and elswehere in Italy. In the 1830s and 1840s, he appeared in the first performances of seven operas by Donizetti. They were in:

In 1842, he appeared for the first time in London, at Her Majesty's Theatre, performing the part of Henry Ashton in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Ronconi's success with audiences outside Italy was immediate, and he continued to be one of the most popular and influential operatic artists in Europe until the early 1870s, when he retired. He appeared, for instance, at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from 1847 until 1866. Vienna heard him in 1843 and he sang in St Petersburg in 1850-1860 and New York City in 1866-1872.

His voice was neither extensive in compass nor fine in quality, but the genius of his acting and the strength of his personality atoned for his vocal defects. He was equally at home in comedy and tragedy, and the two parts by which he is best remembered, Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto and Gioachino Rossini's Figaro, showed the spread of his talent. A large section is devoted to descriptions of Ronconi's powers in the critic Henry Fothergill Chorley's Recollections.[1] In his later years, Ronconi founded a school of singing at Granada in Spain and also accepted a professorial post at the Madrid Royal Conservatory.

Ronconi instigated a long line of great Italian baritones that continued into modern times; but the most esteemed of his contemporaries/immediate succesors were probably Felice Varesi, Leone Giraldoni, Francesco Graziani and Antonio Cotogni, all of whom were outstanding Verdi singers.

Ronconi was married to the soprano Giovannina Giannoni. He died in Madrid, aged 79.

Another celebrated 19th century baritone, Sir Charles Santley, wrote in his memoirs that: "The word 'libertà' (freedom) was expunged from the Italian stage-vocabulary by the [occupying] Austrians. In the duet 'Suoni la tromba' (I Puritani), on one occasion, Ronconi gave the words 'gridando libertà' (crying 'Liberty!') with such vigour and emphasis that the audience were excited to the pitch of frenzy, and a great commotion ensued. Next morning he received a reprimand for using the prohibited word, accompanied by a request to use the word 'lealtà' (loyalty) on future occasions in its stead. Shortly after, playing Il Sergente in L'elisir d'amore, in deference to the request, for perdè la liberta (lost his freedom) he substituted perdè la lealtà (lost his loyalty), which was received with shrieks of laughter by the audience, to the great discomfiture of the advocates of 'loyalty.'"[2]

References

Harold Rosenthal and John Warrack, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera (second edition), Oxford University Press, London, 1979.

  1. ^ H. F. Chorley (1862), Thirty Years' Musical Recollections. Hurst & Blackett, London, Volume II, The Year 1847, pp. 14-21.[1]
  2. ^ C. Santley (1892), Student and Singer, The Reminiscences of Charles Santley. Edward Arnold, London, p. 80.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GIORGIO RONCONI (1810-1890), Italian baritone vocalist, was born in 1810. He learnt singing from his father Domenico, who had been a celebrated tenor in his time, and made his debut in 1831 at Pavia. After singing in Italy for some years with ever-growing success, he appeared for the first time in England, in 1842, as Henry Ashton in Lucia di Lammermoor. His success was immediate, and he continued to be one of the most popular artists on the lyric stage until his retirement in 1866. His voice was neither extensive in compass nor fine in quality, but the genius of his acting and the strength of his personality fully atoned for his vocal defects. He was equally at home in comedy and tragedy, and the two parts by which he is best remembered, Rigoletto and Figaro, show conclusively the range of his talent. In his later years Ronconi founded a school of singing at Granada, and he also accepted the post of professor of singing at the Madrid Conservatoire. He died in 1890.


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