A true performer

Born in Lumezzane in the province of Brescia, having studied under the famous baritone Grandini and later at the Conservatoire in Brescia, Giacinto Prandelli earned himself a reputation in the nineteen forties in the Italian opera houses and several of the main international ones. Following his debut in a concert at the Teatro Verdi in Busseto, the tenor from Lombardy performed at the Teatro del Corso in Bologna and then in Mulé’s Dafni at La Fenice in Venice; shortly thereafter he appeared in some open-air performances of Traviata together with Toti dal Monte, who was already in decline.

It was not so much unlimited power or range or particular density of tone that brought him renown as first-rate musicality, with superb phrasing that was unbeatable in terms of variety of expression and clear diction, always agile, rhythmical and virtually infallible. Not for nothing did he win the approval of that unbending conductor that was Arturo Toscanini; he was even appreciated by German conductors such as Wilhelm Furtwaengler. This is why he performed repeatedly at the best theatres and why the great sopranos – from Favero to Tebaldi, from Caniglia to Simionato – were all eager to be his partner on stage. I remember in particular a performance of his in Massnet’s Manon opposite Rosanna Carteri, a soprano of great promise, in which Prandelli, untroubled by obvious comparisons with some of his famous predecessors, offered such a fine performance of Des Grieux, so conscientiously real, so linearly persuasive that it was difficult to forget. And yet he performed the whole French repertoire exquisitely and sensitively, just as some of Donizetti’s characters (Fernando, Ernesto, Nemorino, Edgardo) benefited immensely from his superb musical skills. And even in verist operas, as well as with Puccini’s Rodolfo, Pinkerton and Cavaradossi, his temperate accentuation imposed itself with authority, even when – in Adriana Lecouvreur or Fedora for instance – he sang opposite artists of the calibre of Favero or Pederzini. In short, he was a true performer, at a time when the taste and clamour for empty rhetoric still resisted.

(from Le stirpi canore, ed. Bongiovanni, Bologna 1978)

Angelo Sguerzi