The beginning of the twenty century was also the beginning in the careers of a number of distinguished tenors headed by Enrico Caruso. The most important among them were Giovanni Zenatello, Amedeo Bassi, Giuseppe Borgatti, Edoardo Garbin, Rinaldo Grassi, Pietro Schiavazzi, Giulio Crimi, Edoardo Ferrari-Fontana and Itallo Cristalli. They were the first important tenors to make use of the gramophone record as a document and for publicity; they inaugurated some of the great contemporary theaters and were chosen for the premières of many of the operas of the "giovine scuola", the verismo. A place of honour among these tenors is for the florentine tenor Amedeo Bassi.
Amedeo Bassi was born in Montespertoli (near Florence) on the 26th of July of 1872 (though Kutsch & Riemens mention 29 July 1874), studied singing with the Marchese Corrado Pavesi (other sources mention "Conservatorio Cherubini" in Florence), and made his debut in Castelfiorentino in the opera "Ruy Blas" by Filippo Marchetti (1897).
The month of his debut must be either October or early November. In November he sang at the Arena (Florence) in "Rigoletto" and "Lucrezia Borgia".
In 1898 and 1899 he sang mostly in the "provinces" mostly in lyric roles such as Des Grieux in "Manon","Faust", the Duke in "Rigoletto" and Rodolfo in "La Boheme". He was heard in Ravenna, Firenze, Livorno, Bologna, Pisa and Lecce. Two rather unusual titles were the local première of "Nemea" (by Coop) and "La Resurrezione di Lazaro" (by Lorenzo Perosi) , both at the Teatro Pagliano in Firenze.
Conductor/composer Luigi Mancinelli was so pleased with his performances that chose him for the local première of his opera "Ero e Leandro" at the San Carlo in Naples (1900, March 9). The world première had been in Madrid in 1897). He also appeared in "La Boheme" (4 March) with Lina Cavalieri.
Like Caruso he was one of the first performers of the rol of Cavaradossi in "Tosca". In Genoa (Politeama, October 1900) he had to sing five times the third act aria (E lucevan le stelle). He also sang in "La Bohème" and in the world première of "Medio Evo Latino" (November 17) an opera by the Argentinian composer/conductor Ettore Panizza.
In 1901 Pietro Mascagni chose him for the role of Florindo in the première of "Le Maschere" at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, with Boninsegna, Adami and Corradetti, conducting the same composer. . The opera was first performed simultaneously in seven Italian theaters on January 17th. It is said that Bassi's performance was the best and contributed to the 22 performances that the opera had in Rome.(The opera was a total failure in all the other theaters, eventhough Enrico Caruso sang it in Milan). At the Costanzi he sang also in "Mignon" (February 22) and for the first time the role of Loris in "Fedora" (29 March) with Gemma Bellincioni and Ferruccio Corradetti. Loris would be one of his favourite roles in his career. On April 13 he was Carmine in the world première of "Lorenza" a new opera by Edoardo Mascheroni, with soprano Gemma Bellincioni.
In 1901 he also appeared in Pisa and Firenze.
In the Autumn of 1901 he sang at the Teatro Ristori in Verona, in "Fedora" with Emma Carelli. He was the revelation of the season: "un nuovo tenore della voce meravigliosa e gagliarda, dalle inflessione elettrizzanti e che al canto superbo univa già, un'interpretazione sincera e nuova"
In December he was singing at the Carlo Felice in Genoa, in "La Regina di Saba" (Goldmark) with Maria Farnetti and Carmen Bau Bonaplata and in January 1902 "Lorenza" again with Bellincioni.
In 1902 Amedeo Bassi visited South America for the first time. He sang at the Teatro Politeama in Buenos Aires, from May 13 to August 7, in "Fedora", "La Boheme", "Rigoletto", "Cavalleria Rusticana", "La Gioconda", "Khrysé" (first performance of this opera by the Argentinian composer Arturo Berutti), "Tosca", "Mefistofele", "Linda di Lamounix" and "Germania". His soprano in most of these operas was Emma Carelli. Bassi traveled then to Uruguay for a short season at the Teatro Politeama, in Montevideo, from September 2 to September 18, singing "Fedora", "Tosca", "La Boheme" and "Cavalleria Rusticana". It can really be said that in Argentina Bassi started his successful international career.
Back in Italy, in November he sang at the Comunale in Bologna "Germania" and at La Fenice in Venezia ,"Chopin" (by Giacomo Orefice, 26 December, 10 performances.This was also a local première. The world première had taken place the year before, 25 november 1901 at the Teatro Lirico in Milan with tenor Giuseppe Borgatti.
In 1903 Bassi went to Russia, singing in St. Petersburg during January and February (Boheme, Faust, Ernani, Traviata and Un Ballo in Maschera). His ladies were Sigrid Arnoldson, Luisa Tetrazzini and Elena Bianchini Cappelli and the baritones Giuseppe Kaschmann and Eugenio Giraldoni. In March and April he sang in Odessa (Rigoletto, Linda di Chamounix, La Gioconda, La Traviata and Eugene Onegin). His main soprano was Maria Galvany and Mattia Battistini was the baritone.
In 1903 also Bassi came for the first time to the Teatro Municipal in Santiago (Chile) singing from June 17 to October 20, in "Tosca", "Fedora", "Adriana Lecouvreur" (first time in Chile), "La Boheme", "Manon Lescaut", "Mefistofele", "Faust", "Rigoletto", "Chopin" (by Orefice, first time in Chile), "Lorenza" (by Mascheroni, first time in Chile) and "Cavalleria Rusticana". The cast included sopranos Amedea Santarelli and Giuseppina Finzi-Magrini, the baritone Enrico Nani and bass Luigi Nicoletti-Kormann. He sang several of these operas also at the Teatro de la Victoria, in Valparaíso.
After his successful season in Chile, Bassi made his debut at the Teatro Real in Madrid on December 9th, 1903 as Rodolfo in "La Boheme" with Emma Carelli During this season 1903/1904 he sang also in "Mefistofele" (December 17, with Carelli and Andrés Perelló de Segurola), "Tosca" with Matilde De Lerma and Vincenzo Ardito (January 2nd), "Rigoletto" (January 5th,with María Barrientos), "Ernani" (January 10, with De Lerma and Ancona) and "Lucia" (January 19, with Barrientos).
In February 1904 the tenor sang "Fedora" and "Siberia" at the Politeama in Genoa. This last opera was one of his favourites and he sang it in the local première at the San Carlo in Naples (1904), in Santiago de Chile (1904), at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris (1905), and at the Regio in Turin(1906) .
In February/March 1904 he sang also at the San Carlo in Naples, in "Tosca", "Fedora" and the "firsts" of "Adriana Lecouvreur" and "Siberia" (March 9, with Rina Giachetti, Francesco Maria Bonini and Oreste Luppi.
Bassi came to Buenos Aires again in 1904 for a season at the Teatro Politeama from April 9 to June 5, singing in "Tosca", "Fedora", "La Gioconda", "Rigoletto", "Faust", "Chopin", "Iris", "La Boheme",and "Khrysé".The co-stars in these performances were soprano Santarelli , baritone Riccardo Stracciari and basses Nicoletti-Kormann and Gaudio Mansueto. Then the company sang at the Teatro Argentino (La Plata) and Rosario (where he inaugurated the Teatro Opera. He sang in Rosario from June 8 to June 14 in the operas "La Boheme", "Iris", "La Gioconda" and "Chopin") and then to Montevideo were Bassi sang in "Iris" and "La Gioconda" (june 18 and 19).
Then Amedeo Bassi came for the second time to Chile were he was unconditionally admired. He sang from July 7 to October 28. In Santiago he was heard in "Tosca", "Fedora", "Rigoletto", "Chopin", "Faust" , "Iris" (first time in Chile), "La Gioconda", "Manon Lescaut" and "Siberia" (first time in Chile). His costars in Chile were the Portuguese sopranos Maria D'Arneiro and Maria Giudice, baritone Stracciari and basses Nicoletti-Kormann and Mansueto. At the Teatro de la Victoria in Valparaíso he sang the same repertoire with the same casts of Santiago.
After the season in Chile, Amedeo Bassi made his debut at the Teatro del Liceu, in Barcelona, with "Tosca" (December 17, with Carelli and Sammarco). He also sang in "Mefistofele" (December 23, with Carelli and Didur), "La Boheme" (January 8th 1905, with Carelli and Darclée). At the "Serata d'Onore di Emma Carelli" (January 15) he sang in acts I, II and IV of "La Boheme" and in act II of "Tosca". His last role in Barcelona was Turiddu in "Cavalleria Rusticana" (February 2nd, with Maria Giudice.
From Barcelona Bassi went to Madrid and sang three performances of "La Boheme" (the first one on February 18), with Matilde De Lerma.
In March 1905 Bassi sang at the Grand Théâtre of Monte Carlo. He sang "Mefistofele" with Emma Calvé and Feodor Chaliapin (March 3).
In May 1905 Bassi was engaged by Edoardo Sonzogno for the now famous Italian season at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris and obtained a clamorous success in the Parisian first performances of "Siberia" (May 4th) with Amelia Pinto and Titta Ruffo, and "Andrea Chenier" with Eva Tetrazzini and Mario Sammarco (June 3), He also sang in a concert (May 22) and "Chopin" (June 13th with Adeline Stehle and Paolo Wulmann).
By the way, the greatest success of the season was the première of "Fedora" with Lina Cavalieri and ENRICO CARUSO!
On August 6, 1905 sang "Mefistofele" in Orange, with Lina Cavalieri and Chaliapin.
Also in August 1905 Bassi came again to South America, this time to Brazil singing at the Teatro Lyrico in Rio de Janeiro successfully in "Werther", "La Boheme" and "Tosca". Maria Farnetti was his leading soprano and conductor wa Luigi Mancinelli. Plans to sing in Sao Paulo failed and Bassi returned to Europe.
He sang at the Politeama in Genoa in "Siberia" (Crestani and Bonini) and created the role of Chevalier D'Auvigny in the world première of "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" by the Greek composer Spyros Samaras on November 8 with Amelia Pinto and Bari. Bassi sang only the first performance of this opera, and then Antonio Paoli sang the other two performances of it.
His last visit to the Teatro Real in Madrid started with "Tosca" (November 18, with Maria D'Arneyro and Rina Giacchetti sharing the title role and bartiones Blanchard and Sammarco as Scarpia). He sang 9 performances of "Tosca". Later he sang four performances of "La Boheme" (November 25, with Lina Pasini Vitale), three performances of "La Gioconda" (December 6th, with Amelia Pinto and Ramon Blanchard), four performances of "Mefistofele" (December 23,with Pasini Vitale and basses Luigi Rossato and Gaudio Mansueto); three performances of "La Dannazione di Faust" (January 14, with D'Arneyro and Blanchard) and three performances of "Manon Lescaut" (January 20, 1906, with Rina Giacchetti). In February he was in Monte Carlo singing "Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" with Lina Cavalieri and Maurice Renaud. He returned to Italy to sing at the San Carlo in Naples. He sang in "Tosca", "Rigoletto", "Amica" (local première, with Elena Bianchini-Cappelli and Mario Sammarco), and "Tess" (by Baron Frédéric D'Erlanger, role Angel Clare, world première on April 9, with Rina Giacchetti and Sammarco, conductor Panizza).
Also in 1906 Amedeo Bassi sang at the Teatro Regio in Parma the role of Vassili in Giordano's "Siberia" (March 3rd) with Lucia Crestani and conductor Arturo Toscanini. On April 15 he made his second and last visit to the Liceu in Barcelona, to sing two performances of "Tosca" with Darclée and Blanchard.
The same year he came for the last time to Chile. It was a season from June 26 to October 29 at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago. He sang in "Manon Lescaut", "La Gioconda", "Iris", "Tosca", "Mefistofele", "Chopin", "La Dannazione di Faust", "Faust", "Germania " (by Franchetti, first time in Chile) and "Amica" (by Mascagni, first time in Chile). His sopranos were Adelina Agostinelli and Amelia Pinto, the baritones were Enrico Nani and Ernesto Badini and basses Nazzareno de Angelis and Luigi Nicoletti-Kormann. He also sang at the Teatro de la Victoria in Valparaiso in "Manon Lescaut", "Tosca" and "Iris". In the evening of August 16th while Bassi was in Santiago preparing himself for "Tosca" a terrible earthquake took place in Valparaiso (it reduced to ashes the Teatro de la Victoria) but it was strongly felt also in Santiago. Artists and public run to the streets were the the terrified people asked the chorus still dressed as priests and bishops for their blessings and spiritual assistance.
Oscar Hammerstein engaged Bassi for his inaugural season (1906-1907) at the Manhattan Opera House, in New York. He made his debut on December 19, 1906 with "Aida" with Giannina Russ and Mario Ancona. Later he was heard in "La Traviata" (with Nellie Melba and Maurice Renaud), in "Gli Ugonotti" (with Russ and Ancona), in "Pagliacci" (with Pauline Donalda and Mario Sammarco), in "Un Ballo in Maschera" (with Russ and Sammarco), in "Faust" (with Russ and Sammarco) and closed his first season with Verdi's "Requiem" (29 March 1907, with Russ, De Cisneros and Arimondi).
In 1907 (June/July) he made also his debut at London's Covent Garden, singing in "Loreley" (local première), "Germania", "Boheme", "Tosca", "Madama Butterfly", "Pagliacci", "Aida", "Un Ballo in Maschera" and "Faust". He shared the roles of Canio, Riccardo and Cavaradossi with Enrico Caruso, and Rodolfo with Alessandro Bonci.
In 1907, September 14, he sang at the Teatro Regio in Parma the role of Federico Loewe in "Germania" with Zeppilli and Sammarco. In October 1907 he returned to Covent Garden (a second season in the same year, from October 3 to November 30) singing with Rina Giachetti and Giuseppe De Luca in "Madama Butterfly", "La Boheme" and "Tosca". He was also heard in "Pagliacci", "Faust", "Germania" and "Aida".
His second season at the Manhattan (1907-1908) started on December 9, 1907 with "Pagliacci". Later in the season he sang the tenor roles in "Ernani", "Rigoletto", "Faust", "Aida", "La Traviata" (with Luisa Tetrazzini), "Cavalleria Rusticana", "Siberia" and "Andrea Chenier" (with Eva Tetrazzini and Mario Sammarco).
In 1908 Amedeo Bassi went again to Argentina. He was to "open" the new Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires on May 25th, 1908 with "Aida" (wih Lucia Crestani). During that season he sang also in "Mefistofele" (with Maria Farnetti and Feodor Chalipain), "Madama Butterfly" (with Farnetti), "Pagliacci" (with Titta Ruffo), "Tosca" (with Ruffo), "Rigoletto" (with Ruffo), and created the role of Mariano in "Aurora" (by Ettore Panizza, world première on September 5th, with Farnetti and Ruffo), and "Paolo e Francesca" by Luigi Mancinelli (local première). The success of Bassi was great and mainly in "Aurora" where he was forced to repeat "L'Inno alla Bandiera", something few times seen in the Teatro Colón.
He sang in Naples during the season 1908/1909 in "Aida", "Gloria" (by Cilea, with Carelli and Ancona) and "Cavalleria Rusticana".
In 1909 Bassi sang at the Costanzi in Rome the title role in "Andrea Chenier" (February 2nd) with Giachetti and Domenico Viglione Borghese. In the same year he sang at La Scala for the first time, as Arrigo in "I Vespri Siciliani" (February 21, 7 performances) with Ester Mazzoleni, Riccardo Stracciari and Nazzareno de Angelis, as Paolo in "Paolo e Francesca" (March 10, 3 performances) with Mazzoleni and Taurino Parvis and as Des Grieux in"Manon Lescaut" (March 20, 8 performances) with Karola/Cervi Caroli and Stracciari.
On May 13, 1909 he returned to the San Carlo for the world premièrre of "La Cena del Signore" by Paul Hartmann, with Carelli, Galeffi and the author conducting. There were four performances of his symphonic-choral work.
In 1910 Pietro Mascagni chose him for a new version of Verdi's "Don Carlos" at the Opera di Roma (January 29th) with Giannina Russ, Giuseppe De Luca and Carlo Walter in the other main roles and Mascagni as conductor. Then he was in Milan to sing at La Scala the role of Vasco de Gama in "L'Africana" (March 13) with Mazzoleni, Linda Cannetti, Viglione Borghese and De Angelis.
In 1910 he was heard at the San Carlo for the last time and only in "La Boheme".
At the end of the year, on November 3rd, Bassi inaugurated another theater, the Civic Opera in Chicago, with "Aida" ( November 3rd with Jeanne Korolewics and Sammarco). In his first season in Chicago he was heard also in "Pagliacci", "Tosca", "Boheme" and "Traviata" (both with Melba and Sammarco), "Madama Butterfly" (with Geraldine Farrar and Antonio Scotti) and the local première of "La Fanciulla del West" ( December 27th, with Carolina White and Maurice Renaud and Mario Sammarco alternating as Rance). From December 30 to April 1st 1911, Bassi sang with the Chicago company in a tour for several American cities: Milwaukke, St. Louis, St. Paul, Philadelphia and Baltimore.He sang mainly "La Fanciulla del West" but was casted also in performances of "Aida", "Pagliacci", "Lucia", "Tosca", "Ugonotti", "La Boheme", "Madama Butterfly" and "Rigoletto".
In 1911 Bassi was also engaged by the Boston Opera Co. to sing in Boston, one performance of "Manon Lescaut" (February 22, with Melis and Fornari) and one of "La Fanciulla del West" (March 4, with Carolina White and Giovanni Polesi).
Amedeo Bassi, like his contemporary and illustrious colleague Giovanni Zenatello, was never engaged by the Metropolitan Opera. However, when Caruso was ill , Bassi was called for three performances of "La Fanciulla del West" with the same cast of the world première: Emmy Destinn, Pasquale Amato and Arturo Toscanini. The first performance was at the house on March 2nd 1911, the second one at Brooklyn's Academy of Music on March 18th, and the last one at the house, on March 27th 1911.
May 1911 was also his second and last season in London. He was heard in "La Fanciulla del West" (May 29, being this the first performance of the opera in Europe) with Emmy Destinn and Dinh Gilly, "La Boheme" (with Melba), "Madama Butterfly" (with Destinn) and "Aida" (with Destinn). He returned on 26 June for George V "Coronation Gala" singing the act two of "Aida" with Destinn, Kirkby Lunn and Gilly.
On June 12, 1911 Amedeo Bassi had the honour of singing in the Italian première of "La Fanciulla del West" that took place at the Costanzi in Rome, with Eugenia Burzio and Pasquale Amato, with Toscanini at the podium.
The second season in Chicago (1911-1912) started for Bassi on November 12nd singing in Philadelphia "Pagliacci", on November 15th "Lucia" (with Tetrazzini and Sammarco), in the same city in November 18th in "La Traviata" (again with Tetrazzini and Sammarco). On November 21 in Cleveland, "Lucia" with the same artists and finally , in Chicago in November 24th with "Lucia di Lammermoor" (with Tetrazzini and Sammarco). With the same artists Bassi sang "Traviata" (November 28) and "Rigoletto" (November 30). A new role for Bassi was Gérard in "Lakmé". He sang it in Chicago with Tetrazzini and Crabbé on December 6th. There was then one "Lucia" on December 11th at the Music Hall in Cincinnati and on December 16 another "Traviata" in Chicago this time with Alice Zeppilli and baritone Alfredo Costa. The season in Chicago finished for Bassi with another new role, Don José in "Carmen" that he sang on January 3rd, 1912 with Mary Garden, Alice Zeppilli and Armand Crabbé and the role of Gennaro in "I Gioielli della Madonna" (by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari) on January 16th, with Carolina White and Mario Sammarco. It was not only the first American performance of this opera but also the first in Italian language anywhere. There were six performances of this opera. From January 20 to March 25, 1912. Amedeo Bassi made the tour with the Chicago Opera Company singing in St. Paul, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City and Washington D.C. He sang his usual repertoir, namely "I Gioielli della Madonna". An unusual title was "I Dispettosi Amanti" (A Lover's Quarrel) by Attilio Parelli that he sang the role of Florindo in its world première in Philadelphia, on March 6th, with Zeppilli and Sammarco.
In 1912 he visited Argentina for the last time to sing at the Teatro Colón in what has been called "The Toscanini Season". He sang "Aida" (May 24, five performances) with Cecilia Gagliardi and Pasquale Amato, "Germania" (June 22, five performances) with Gagliardi and Amato and "Figli di Re" (by Engebert Humperdinck, August 20, three performances) a local première and sangi in Italian, with Lucrezia Bori and Giuseppe de Luca, all conducted by Toscanini.
By the end of the year he was singing again in Italy. There are some performances of "Tosca" at the Politeama Fiorentino in Florence (December 31) with Eugenia Burzio, Taurino Parvis and conductor Leopoldo Mugnone.
In April 1913 he sang for the first time at the Opéra (Palais Garnier) in Paris.He made his debut in "Rigoletto" (April 7) and then sang in "Aida". On June 5 he sang at L'Opéra Comique, in Paris, "Tosca" with Fausta Labia and Eugenio Giraldoni and later at the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen, "Aida". He sang at the Regio in Parma for the Verdi Centennial in "Don Carlo" (October 5) with Giannina Russ and Giuseppe Danise, the conductor was Cleofonte Campanini.
He went again to America for his third season in Chicago (1913-1914). Before going to Chicago Bassi sang with the company in Philadelphia: "Pagliacci" (November 13, with Ruffo); "La Gioconda" (November 17, with White and Ruffo) and "Cristoforo Colombo" (November 20, with Raisa and Ruffo). The season started in Chicago on November 24th with "Tosca" (with Mary Garden and Vanni Marcoux). His other operas that season were "Madama Butterfly" (with Zeppilli), "Aida" (with Rosa Raisa), "Fanciulla del West" (with Carolina White), "Cristoforo Colombo" (by Franchetti, with Rosa Raisa and Titta Ruffo), "I Gioielli della Madonna" (with White), "I Zingari" (by Leoncavallo,role Radu, with White) in double bill with "Pagliacci" (with Ruffo), "Trovatore" (with Schumann-Heink), "Boheme" (with Frances Alda and Nelli Melba alternating as Mimi), and finally one performance of "I Dispettosi Amanti" (by Attilio Parelli, on January 29, 1914).
After the season in Chicago the company visited several cities from February 2nd to April 22nd: Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, St. Louis and St. Paul.
In February/March 1915 Bassi was singing at the Politeama in Firenze, "Manon Lescaut" with Muzio (February 25) .
There was not opera season in Chicago in 1914/1915.
His fourth and last season in Chicago (1915-1916) started with "La Gioconda" on November 15th (with Emmy Destinn and Mario Ancona). He sang later in "La Boheme" (with Melba), in "Tosca" (with Farrar/Melis), in "Madama Butterfly" (with Farrar/Melis), in "I Gioielli della Madonna" (with Louise Edvina), in "Aida" (with Melis), in "Zaza" (with Carmen Melis) and closed his association with Chicago participating in a "Gran Gala" on January 21st 1916. He sang in the second act of "Aida" (with Melis and Ancona) and in "Cavalleria Rusticana" (with Melis and Federici).
In March 1916 he went to Paris to sing for the second time at L'Opèra (Palais Garnier) in "La Fanciulla del West" with Carmen Melis and Domenico Viglione-Borghese. He was also heard in the third act of "Aida" and fourth act of "Manon Lescaut" with Melis and Jean Noté (March 12) and the second act of "Fanciulla" and fourth act of "Il Trovatore" (March 16).
At the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen he sang "Tosca" with Melis on March 23rd and in December he sang "Tosca" at the Comunale, in Bologna, with Tina Poli-Randaccio and Eugenio Giraldoni.
In 1917 Bassi sang again at the Costanzi (January 3rd) in "La Fanciulla del West" with Carmen Melis and Taurino Parvis and at La Scala in January and February, 10 perforamnces of "Siberia" and 8 peformances of "Tosca", both with Gilda Dalla-Rizza and Giiuseppe Danise.
On March 9, 1918 there were performances of "La Fanciulla del West" at Teatro della Pergola, in Firenze, with Elsa Raccanelli and from May 18 seven performances of "Tosca" at the Politeama, in Livorno.
On 21st December 1918 Bassi sang at the Costanzi in Rome, in the revival of "Don Carlo" (10 performances) with Giannina Russ, Carlo Galeffi and Giulio Cirino, Gino Marinuzzi conductor.
In February 8, 1919 he sang "Pagliacci" at La Pergola, in Firenze and at the Costanzi (May 14) with Gina Viganò and Benvenuto Franci. He was also heard at the Regio in Parma as "Sigfrido" (December 27, 16 performances) with Teresina Burchi, Fanny Anitúa, Pavel Ludikar and conductor Panizza.
Like the renowned tenors Giuseppe Borgatti and Edoardo Ferrari-Fontana before him, from end 1919 until the end of his operatic career in 1926, Amedeo Bassi became a succesfful Wagnerian tenor.
In 1920 (March 6th) Bassi sang at the Regio In Parma, Il Prologo of "Il Creposcolo degli Dei" with Burchi, Vornos, Massa and Scaramelli. During the season 1920-1921 he was heard at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, in 9 performances of "Siegfried" and 11 performances of "Tristano e Isotta", with Turchetti, Capuana, Cigada and Di Lelio.
In 1921 he sang again at the Regio in Parma (February 2nd), 12 performances of "Tristano e Isotta" with Elena Rakowska, Giuseppe Noto, Maria Capuana and conductor Tullio Serafin and in March 31 he sang Tristan, this time at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, with Rakowska, Capuana, Noto and Quinzi Tapergi.
In 1922 (January 5) Amedeo Bassi sang at La Scala in Milan, eleven performances of "Parsifal" with Elena Widbrunn, Carlo Galeffi/Apollo Granforte, Nazzareno de Angelis and conductor Panizza. Also in 1922 Bassi sang in Paris, at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in "Tristano e Isotta" (May 22) with Rakowska, Capuana, Cigada, Quinzi Tapergi and "Parsifal" (May 28) with Elena Rakowska, Apollo Granforte, Nazzareno De Angelis and Tullio Serafin as conductor. At the Costanzi, Bassi sang the main role in "Sigfrido" (December 26) with María Llacer and Otto Klemperer conducting.
"He who has seen and heard Bassi as Siegfried, lying under a tree in the whispering forest, dreaming of his unknown mother, and heard his wild question after Mime's exit will remember poetry that can never return" (Augusto Carelli, brother of soprano Emma Carelli)
In 1923 Amedeo Bassi at the Costanzi sang "Tristano e Isotta" (February 20) with Lucy Weidt and Vittorio Gui conducting.
In 1923 (December 26) Bassi sang the role of Licinio in "La Vestale" (by Gaspare Spontini) with Maria Carena, Giannina Arangi Lombardi, Tancredi Pasero and the Chilean baritone Carlo Morelli, at the Costanzi.
In 1924 Bassi sang for the last time at the Costanzi. He was heard in a new role, Erode, in Rcihard Strauss "Salome" (February 2). There were 8 performances of this opera, that was sung in Italian, with Carmen Melis and Genevieve Vix sharing the title role, Carlo Moreli as Jochanaan and the composer conducted. Then he was Sigfrido in "Il Crepuscolo degli Dei" (February 26) with Teresina Burchi, Enrico Molinari and Tancredi Pasero.
"il grande tenore Bassi fu un Sigfrido impetuoso ed ardente e, specie nel terzo atto, dove seppe trascinare l'uditorio all'applauso piú caloroso e convinto, non teme alcun possible confronto"
At La Scala from November 16, 1924, he was heard as Loge in "L'Oro del Reno" with Eva Turner, Rina Agozzino, Ernesto Badini, Nazzareno de Angelis and Vittorio Gui, as conductor.
His last season at La Scala was in the season 1925/6. He was heard in the title role of "Sigfrido" in four performances from January 30th 1926. Other singers wee Lily Hafgren, Leonora Corona and Marcel Journet and the conductor was Ettore Panizza.
On May 15, 1926 he sang one performance of "Tristano e Isotta" at the Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna, win Maria Llacer, Irene Minghini-Cattaneo, Luigi Rossi-Morelli and Salvatore Baccaloni and then at the Politeama in Firenze his last opera performance in "Sigfrido" with soprano Helm-Sbisa and Umberto Di Lelio.
His operatic career was over but he sang in concerts until 1940.
On October 23rd, 1926 Amedeo Bassi was the witness in the wedding of Luisa Tetrazzini (55) and Pietro Vernati (32) that took place in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Afterwards, in the reception at the Hotel Savoy they sang together "O soave fanciulla" from Puccini's "La Boheme".
As usually happens with most singers of the period, it is hard to imagine how was the real voice of Bassi. We only have the records he left (not too many and not to happily recorded). But I have copied some opinions as appeared on "Il Teatro Illustrato" and signed by Giovanni Borelli:
"Timbro incisivo, gagliardia atta a sorreggere il peso delle tessiture più azzardate.....squisiti portamente legati e soavi smorzature idilliache."
"Se non uno straordinario volume materiale c'era una gagliarda resistenza di smalto e di membratura vocale; quella che occorre a resistere alle grande tessiture sfogate tipo 'Aida' "
This is the complete list of Bassi's world premières:
1900, Nov.17 Genova-Politeama Genovese-"Medio Evo Latino" (Ettore Panizza)
Roles: Il Bardo, Il Menestrello, Il Poeta
1901, Jan.17 Roma-Teatro Costanzi-"Le Maschere" (Pietro Mascagni)
1901, Apr.13 Roma-Teatro Costanzi-"Lorenza" (Edoardo Mascheroni)
1902, Jun.20 Buenos Aires-Teatro Politeama-"Khrizé" (Arturo Berutti)
1905, Nov.08 Genova-Politeama Genovese-"Mademoiselle de Belle Isle" (Spyros
Samaras) Role: Chevalier D'Aubigny
1906, Apr.09 Napoli-Teatro San Carlo-"Tess" (Fréderic D'Erlanger)
Role: Angel Clare
1908, Sep.05 -Buenos Aires-Teatro Colón-"Aurora" (Ettore Panizza)
1909, May 13-Napoli-Teatro San Carlo-"La Cena del Signore" (Paul Hartmann)
Not an opera, but a symphonic/choral work
1912, March 6-Philadelphia-Academy of Music-"I Dispettosi Amanti" (Attilio Parelli)
Eventhough none of these operas is heard today (with the exception of "Aurora" from time to time in Argentina), Bassi also sang in many operas created in the period by tenors like Caruso, Borgatti, De Lucia and Zenatello and made these roles successful in his own voice:"Iris","Fedora", "Adriana Lecouvreur", "Germania", "Siberia", "Amica", "Chopin", "Tosca", "La Fanciulla del West", and "Andrea Chenier" to mention some at random.
During the last ten years of his life, Amedeo Bassi was a member of the jury in the singing contests in Florence. He is credited for discovering the voices of Giulietta Simionato and Giulio Neri (1933) and Ferruccio Tagliavini (1938). Bassi gave lessons to Tagliavini, to British tenor Benvenuto Finelli (born Bennet Fynn) and to Caroline Unger.
It seems that Bassi was happily married and had two sons:
"Ha avuto la fortuna di sposare una donna intelligente e una perfetta musicista, che è stata per lui una vera collaborazione,...padre di due bei bimbi (Ugo e Mario)"
(He was lucky to marry an intelligent woman and a perfect musician, who has been for him a real collaborator. He is the father of twon sons: Ugo and Mario). Published in "Il Teatro Illustrato" 15-20 April 1906.
It is also said that he owned several "palazzo homes" in and around Florence.
Amedeo Bassi died in Florence on the 14 of January of 1949. His voice has been preserved in 40 sides that he recorded for the following companies:
Pathé (Milan, 1905),16 sides with piano accomp. Very interesting recordings from "Siberia", "Chopin" and "Andrea Chenier". Fonotipia (Milan, 1906), 10 sides with piano accomp. Very interesting recordings from "Tess", "Siberia", "Fedora" (the composer at the piano) and Giordano's "Canzone Guerresca" (also the composer accomp.).Pathé (Milan, 1912), 12 sides with orchestra. Beautiful rendition of "Aurora"'s Inno alla Bandiera (a creator record!). Interesting recordings from "Lombardi", "Mefistofele" and "Fanciulla del West". Finally he recorded two sides (Manon Lescaut and Pagliacci) for "Disco Paradiso" (I assume in Milan on/about 1912).
A curious fact is that his grandson was the famous Italian movie star Rossano Brazzi. He filmed part of his film "Il Rubamento" at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, perhaps thinking in honouring his grandfather that had inaugurated the theater in 1908 and was so much loved in South America.
The author express his gratitude to Tom Kaufman, Jaume Tribó and Bob Rideout who gave very important information on Bassi's career. It would have been very difficult to complete this article without their kind cooperation
Juan Dzazópulos E.
In RA Format
I wish to thank Julian Philip Myerscough for the recording (Fedora).
Ruy Blas-Castelfiorentino, 1897 (From Celletti's Grandi Voce)
Rigoletto-Firenze,Arena, November 1897
Lucrezia Borgia-Firenze, Arena November 1897
Manon-Ravenna, Alighieri, May 1898
La Bohème-Firenze, Pagliano, January 8?, 1897
Nemea-Firenze, Pagliano, March 17, 1898
Faust-Firenze, Pagliano,November 12, 1898
Ressurection of Lazarus-Firenze, Pagliano, December 6, 1898
Ero e Leandro-Napoli, San Carlo, 9 March 1900
Tosca-Genova, Politeama, October 1900
Medio Evo Latino (Composer Panizza)-Genova, Politeama, November 17, 1900
Le Maschere-Roma, Costanzi, January 17, 1901
Mignon-Roma, Costanzi, February 22,1901
Fedora-Roma, Costanzi, March 29, 1901
Lorenza-Roma, Costanzi, April 13, 1901
La Traviata-Firenze, Verdi, October 3, 1901
La Regina di Saba-Genova, Carlo Felice, December 26, 1901
La Gioconda-Buenos Aires, Politeama, June 5, 1902
Khrise (Composer Beruti)-Buenos Aires, Politeama, June 20, 1902
Cavalleria Rusticana-Buenos Aires, Politeama, June 29, 1902
Linda di Chamounix-Buenos Aires, Politeama, July 1, 1902
Germania-Bologna, Comunale, November 2, 1902
Chopin-Venezia, Fenice, December 26, 1902
Ernani-St. Petersburg, Gande Salle du Conservatoire, February 3, 1903
Un Ballo in Maschera-St. Petersburg, February, 1903
Eugene Onegin-Odessa, Russian Theater, April 7, 1903
Adriana Lecouvreur-Santiago, Municipal, Summer 1903
Manon Lescaut-Santiago, Municipal, Summer 1903
Mefistofele-Santiago, Municipal, Summer 1903
Lucia di Lammermoor-Madrid, Real, January 15, 1904
La Favorita-Madrid, Real, January 21, 1904
Siberia-Genova, Felice, February 1904
Iris-Buenos Aires, Politeama, May 11, 1904
Andrea Chenier-Madrid, Real, June 3, 1905
Madamigella di Belle Isle-Genova, Politeama, November 8, 1905
La Damnation de Faust-Madrid Real, January 14, 1906
Amica-Napoli, San Carlo, March 15, 1906
Tess-Napoli, San Carlo, April 9, 1906
Les Huguenots-New York, Manhattan, January 18, 1907
Pagliacci-New York, Manhattan, February 1, 1907
Madama Butterfly-London, Covent Garden, October 3, 1907
Aida-London, Covent Garden, Fall 1907
Paolo e Francesca-Buenos Aires, July 4, 1908
Aurora-Buenos Aires, September 5, 1908
Gloria-Napoli, San Carlo, January 13, 1908
I Vespri Siciliani-Milano, Scala, February 21, 1909
La Cena del Signore-Napoli, San Carlo, May 13, 1909
Don Carlo-Roma, Costanzi, January 29, 1910
L'Africaine-Milano, Scala, March 13, 1910
La Fanciulla del West-Chicago, Civic Opera, December 17, 1910
Lakmé-Chicago, Civic Opera, December 6, 1911
The Jewels of the Madonna-Chicago, Civic Opera, January 16, 1912
A Lover's Quarrel- Philadelphia, Opera, March 6, 1912
Cristofore Colombo-Philadelphia, Opera, November 20, 1913
Zingari-Chicago, Civic Opera, December 19, 1913
Il Trovatore-Chicago, Civic Opera, December 25, 1913
Zaza-Chicago, Civic Opera, January 17, 1916
Siegfried-Torino, Regio, December 27, 1919
Tristan und Isolde-Trieste, Verdi, Early 1920
Parsifal-Milano, Scala, January 5, 1922
La Vestale-Roma, Costanzi, December 26, 1923
Salome-Roma, Costanzi, February 2, 1924
Die Götterdämmerung-Roma, Costanzi, Feburary 26, 1924
Das Rheingold-Milano, Scala, November 16, 1924
I wish to thank Tom Kaufman for providing help with the repertory.
xph 1742 Tosca: Aria Unpublished
xph 1795 Rigolleto: Aria Unpublished
xph 1798-2 Tess: Stanotte ha fatto 39651
xph 1799-2 Tess: Il sogno e la coscienza 39652
xph 1800 Tosca: Aria Unpublished
xph 1801 Tess: Aria Unpublished
xph 1804 Siberia: Orride steppe 39643
xph 1805 Siberia: T'incontrai per via 39644
xph 1806 Fedora: Amor ti vieta 39727
xph 1855 Canzone guerresca 30726
xph 1855-2 Canzone guerresca 30726
Pathé, Paris 1904
Siberia:T'incontrai per via 4230 10005
Tosca: E lucevan le stelle 4231
Occhi di fata 4232 10307
Rigoletto: Questa o quella 4233 10287
I Lombardi: La mia letizia 4234 10287
Chopin: O mia pologna 4235 10151
Chopin: Io sono un fior 4236 10151
Fedora: Amor ti vieta 4237
Andrea Chenier: Improvviso 4239 10150
La Bohème: In povera mia lieta 4238 10150
Andrea Chenier: Come un bel di di 4240 10005
Tosca: Recondita 4241 10307
La Bohème: O dolci Mani 4242
Andrea Chenier: Si fui soldato 4243 10006
La Bohème: Chi son 4244 12569
La Bohème: A Mimi tu piu 4260 12569 0559
With Titta Ruffo
Pathé, Milano 1912
Aurora: Inno alla bandiera 86391 80013 herr501
Rigoletto: La donna e mobile 86386 10007 0523
Tosca: E lucevan le stelle 86387 10007 0523
Pagliacci: Vesti la Giubba 86388 10113 80012
Occhi di fata 86389 10148
La fanciulla del west: Ch'ella mi 86390 10008
Mefistofele: Giunto sul passo 86392 10008
I Lombardi: La mia letizia 86393 10148
Tosca: Recondita armonia 86394 10307
Manon Lescaut: Tra voi belle 86396 10113 80012
Manon Lescaut: Donna non vidi mai 86397 80013
Grido di guerra 86395
101 Manon Lescaut: Tra voi belle 93386
102 Pagliacci: Arioso 93913