Greek tenor. Cristiano (Cristy or Christy was his artistic name) Solari was born in Smyrna (present Izmir), Ottoman Empire, on 28 October 1894. In Greek he was called "Christos Solaris". His father was a Levantine (Levantinos) and his mother was Greek. The name of Levantinos was given to a great number of Genoese and Venetian Italians that in those years lived in Smyrna and other cities of Asia Minor. After the Turkish-Greek War (1919-1922) all the Greek and Levantine population was forced to leave Smyrna for Greece, Egypt or Italy.
Cristy Solari studied singing in Milan with Serafino Di Falco and made his debut in late 1914 at the Teatro Sociale in Mantova, as Arturo in "I Puritani". Sometime after , in January or February 1915, he sang the role of the Duke in "Rigoletto" at the Teatro alla Scala, in Milan, taking over the role from the Spanish tenor Hipólito Lázaro who had sung several performances before.
In 1916 he performed "Rigoletto" and "La favorita" at the Teatro Chiarella in Turin, and the following year again "Rigoletto" at the Teatro Regio in Parma.He was singing in Parma when he was called to the Italian Army and participated in the First World War. He returned wounded in 1919.
There are no news about his artistic activities until 1924 when he appears singing "Manon" at the Teatro Chiarella and in January 1925 "Rigoletto" at the Teatro Regio in Parma and at the Teatro Bellini in Catania. That year he sang the role of Arlecchino at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, in "Le Furie d'Arlecchino" by Adriano Lualdi.
From October to December 1926 he was singing in several cities in Holland, with Margherita Salvi, in "Rigoletto" and "Il barbiere di Siviglia", and "La boheme" and "La traviata" with Adelaide Saraceni.
During the 1927 season he performed "Lucia di Lammermoor" and "Madama Butterfly" at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, sang in Lisbon "Manon" and "Rigoletto", and participated as a member of the Italian Opera Company in a long tour singing in Holland, Bucharest, Zagreb Sofia, Cairo as well as in several German cities. The operas included "Rigoletto", "Traviata" and "Il barbiere di Siviglia".
The following year (1928) he sang "Mignon" at the Teatro Grande in Brescia as well as "Rigoletto" at the Teatro Comunale in Forlì , the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele in Turin and the Teatro Reinach in Parma.
In 1929 he travelled to South America and sang "Il barbiere di Siviglia" and the role of Colombello in "Il Re" (by Giordano) (the South American première) at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In Montevideo, Uruguay, he sang one performance of "Il barbiere di Siviglia". Back in Europe he sang "L'amico Fritz"at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa and "Mignon" at the Pergola, in Florence. There are press news informing that the entrepreneur Norbert Salter "has engaged him for 8 performances" at the New York Grand Opera Company (1929). However, I have not been able to find a supporting evidence for it.
In 1930 he sang "Mignon" at the Teatro Regio in Parma and in February the role of Rinuccio in "Gianni Schicchi" at the Teatro Regio in Turin, sharing the role with Aureliano Pertile. In April and May visited for the second time Portugal and sang in Lisbon "Il barbiere di Siviglia", "Lucia di Lammermoor", "Madama Butterfly", "Manon" and "Rigoletto".
Also in 1930 he sang "Madama Butterfly" at the Theater an der Wien, in Vienna and, in December, visited Spain for the first time to sing "Manon" at the Teatro del Liceo, in Barcelona. In 1931 he created in San Remo at the Teatro del Casinò, the role of "Il Principe Cristiano" in the new opera "L'ultimo lord" by Franco Alfano and traveled again to Austria but now at the Stadtheater in Salzburg, singing the role of Paolino in "Il matrimonio segreto" by Cimarosa, and then returned to Venice to sing "Il barbiere di Siviglia" at the Teatro La Fenice. During the seasons 1931 and 1932 he repeated his roles in "Manon" (sharing the role with Alessandro Wesselowsky) and "Il barbiere di Siviglia" at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, and sang in 1933 again the role of Almaviva at the Teatro Carlo Felice, in Genoa. In December 1934 he sang for the second time in Spain, in Barcelona, "Il barbiere di Siviglia" with the Catalonian soprano Mercedes Capsir and "Il matrimonio segreto" . In 1935 he sang Elvino in "La sonambula" in Brescia and Bolzano with Toti Dal Monte as Amina.
In 1936 he sang "Mignon" at the Teatro Carlo Felice and then at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo. In April 1937 he sang the role of Filippo Malì in the new opera "Madonna Imperia" by Franco Alfano, at La Scala in Milan (sharing the role with tenor Bruno Landi) and then, in November, he sang in Holland, "I pescatori di perle". In June he sang "Lucia di Lammermoor" with Toti Dal Monte in Zurich. In 1938 he sang Ernesto in "Don Pasquale" at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste and in February was at La Scala in Milan singing the role of Nadir in "I pescatori di perle" by Bizet, the role of "l'innamorato" in "Il gobbo del Califfo" by Franco Casavola and the role of Gelindo (sharing it with Luigi Fort) in "L'impresario in angustie" by Domenico Cimarosa. In September 1938 he sang again with Toti Dal Monte in Switzerland, now in Berne and as Pinkerton in "Madama Butterfly".
In January 1939 he sang a new role in a new opera: "the lover" in "Amelia al ballo" (Amelia goes to the ball) by Gian Carlo Menotti at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste and then he sang the role of Le Bleau in "La vedova scaltra" by Ermanno Wolf Ferrari at the Teatro Grande in Brescia and made a successful concert tour in Belgium and Holland. In 1940 he returned to Brescia to sing "Manon".
He sang very little after the Second World War and he ended his career in 1947 singing "La vedova scaltra" at the Teatro La Fenice, in Venice.
Cristy Solari died in Rome on 26 October 1974 two days before his 80th birthday.
Solari recorded exclusively for Columbia in Italy. He left 13 solo arias from his repertoire of lyric tenor, as well as highlights of La Favorita, L'elisir d'amore and Don Pasquale. Under the ficticious name of FRANCO LARY he recorded more than 50 popular songs of the time, including film songs, tangos and the so called "patriotic" songs of the fascist regime. I have been told that he also recorded some Greek songs, but so far I have not found evidence of them.
Solari belonged to what was then referred as "tenore di grazia" a generation of singers lead by Tito Schipa and then Dino Borgioli, Roberto D'Alessio, Enzo De Muro Lomanto, Giovanni Manurita, Bruno Landi, Nino Ederle, Luigi Fort, Aldo Sinnone, Franco Perulli, Piero Menescaldi, Alesandro Wesselowsky, Emilio Renzi. To these Italians we must add the Portuguese Tomaz Alcaide, the Australian Lionello Cecil (Cecil Sherwood) and the Spaniards, Emili Vendrell, Tino Folgar and Juan García. It was a style of singing quite different from what followed in the fifties by Luigi Infantino, Agostino Lazzari, Cesare Valletti, Ugo Benelli, Nicola Monti and Luis Alva, or more recently by the "Rossinians" like Ricardo Giménez, Rockwell Blake and Juan Diego Flórez. Cristy Solari was able to hold his own against such names as those mentioned before. His voice was full-bodied and capable of fine nuances. In short, he knew "sfumare i suoni", "fraseggiare" and "interpretare". A great artist, indeed.
JUAN DZAZOPULOS, JANUARY 2008