Pier Miranda Ferraro was born in Altivole (Treviso) on the 30th of October of 1924. His real name was Pietro Silvio Ferraro but for artistic reasons he took his wife's name, Miranda, as part of his artistic name.
He studied singing with Mirko Bonomi at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice and later with Aureliano Pertile at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi, in Milan.
His debut took place in 1951 as Rodolfo in "La boheme" at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan. During the three following years he sang in several theatres in Italy. In 1953 he sang Cavaradossi to the "Tosca" of Renata Tebaldi at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia. In 1954 he was already singing at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
In 1955 he sang in Spain for the first time. At the Coliseo Albia in Bilbao. he replaced Mario Del Monaco as Radames in "Aida". He sang later at the Teatro Victoria Eugenia in San Sebastián as Rodolfo in "La boheme". In October he sang in Monterrey (Mexico) in "Andrea Chenier" and "Il trovatore".
In March of 1956 he made his debut in U.S.A. at the New York City Center Opera singing "Tosca" and "Il trovatore".
Also in May and June in 1956 he sang in South America and made his debut at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires as Pinkerton in "Madama Butterfly". He also was Radames in "Aida". From Argentina the company went to Brazil to sing in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo during August and September. Ferraro was heard as Radames and Cavaradossi.
In October 1956 he sang at the Teatro Marini, in Alessandria, "Tosca" with Chilean soprano Claudia Parada.
He sang in January of 1957 at the Teatro Piccinni in Bari, "La forza del destino" and "Tosca" with Claudia Parada. In April he sang his first Russian opera, "Khovanscina" (sung in Italian) at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia and in May he sang another Russian role in "Il Principe Igor" by Borodin, at the Teatro Regio, in Turin, with Boris Christoff. In September of 1957 he sang Alvaro in "La forza del destino" for the RAI-ROMA with Anita Cerquetti.
Early in 1958 he undertook a new role, "Ernani" singing two performances at the Teatro Municipale in Piacenza, with Claudia Parada and Giuseppe Taddei .
On the 26 of February of 1958 another new role, Rodolfo in "Luisa Miller" at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa.
In March he sang "Aida" at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, with Mary Curtis Verna .
After singing at the Teatro Colón during July and August of 1958 in "Madama Butterfly", "Aida" and "Carmen" he went to the San Francisco Opera to sing in September "Don Carlo" and º "La forza del destino".
He started the 1958/1959 season singing at the Municipale in Piacenza, "Aida" with Claudia Parada, Dora Minarchi and Franco Piva.
His debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan took also place in the 1958/1959 season. He sang three roles: Amenofis in Rossini's "Moses" (taken the role after Gianni Raimondi); Calaf in "Turandot" (after Giuseppe Di Stefano, Franco Corelli and Joao Gibin) and the title role in "Ernani" (after Franco Corelli).
On the 27 of January of 1959 he sang the role of Gualtiero in "Il Pirata" with Maria Callas, a concert version in New York's Carnegie Hall. A second performance, with the same cast, took place at the Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., on January 29th.
In March of 1959 he sang again at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, now in "Aida" and then the same opera at the Grand Théâtre in Monte Carlo.
From September 5 to 10 (1959) he recorded in Milan for EMI the role of Enzo in "La Gioconda" with Maria Callas and Piero Cappuccilli.
He sang in Santiago de Chile in September and October in 1959 the roles of Alvaro in "La forza del destino", Don José in "Carmen" and Manrico en "Il Trovatore".
Back in Italy a new role and a new theatre. Arrigo in "I Vespri Siciliani" at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, four performances from the 13 of November of 1959.
In March/April 1960 he sang "Aida" in Vienna and in Milan (La Scala) replacing Mario Del Monaco.
In May of 1960 he sang for the RAI-NAPLES the role of "Il figlio" in the uncommon opera "La Madre" by Donato Di Veroli with the soprano Elena Todeschi as "the mother".
In June 1960 he was again Radames at the Vienna State Opera and in July at the "Arena Flegrea" in Naples.
In September he visited Spain for the second time and sang at the Teatro Campoamor, in Oviedo "Ernani" and "Manon Lescaut" and in December he sang "Aida" and "Carmen" at the Liceo, in Barcelona.
In March of 1962 he sang at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa in "Tosca" with Antonietta Stella and Giangiacomo Guelfi. He sang "La forza del destino" in September at the Kursaal in Lugano and in December of 1962 another new role, Folco in Mascagni's "Isabeau" at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, with Marcella Pobbe (3 peformances).
In July of 1963 he sang an "open air" performance of "Carmen" at the Plaza Mayor, in Madrid and on the 24 of July of 1963, in another "open air" performance he sang (I think for the first time) the main role in Verdi's "Otello" at the Parco Marsaglia in San Remo.
On the 30 of July of 1963 he sang for RAI-ROMA the title role in Mascagni's "Guglielmo Ratcliff" and in October he sang in Switzerland, in Lausanne, "Il trovatore". In November he was in Treviso singing "Otello" .
He sang for the last time for RAI-TORINO on the 25 of February of 1964 and for the first time in his career, a Wagnerian role, "Rienzi".
The year 1965 started with more performances of "Otello" at the Teatro Municipale in Piacenza and he was for the second time in Monte Carlo, now to sing Dick Johnson in "La Fanciulla del West". with Antonietta Stella and Giangiacomo Guelfi. In July he sang in the Summer Season of Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
In January of 1966 he sang at the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania ("Don Carlo" and then many performances of "Otello" in Brescia, Naples, Padua and Venice.
In 1967 he sang "La Fanciulla del West" at the Teatro San Carlo di Napoli and "Otello" at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, in Madrid.
On the 11 of September of 1968, Ferraro sang "Otello" at the Théâtre du Champs-Elysées, in Paris.
In March of 1969, he sang his second Wagnerian role, "Tannhauser" at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. He was invited to sing again in South America, now in Brazil as a member of the San Carlo Opera Company. He sang the role of Ismaele in "Nabucco" with Giangiacomo Guelfi in the title role. There was one performance at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and one performance at the Teatro Municipal in Sao Paulo.
In December of 1970 he sang the role of "Samson" in "Sansone e Dalila" at the Teatro San Carlo, sharing the five performances with Mario Del Monaco.
During his last years as a singer he won a certain reputation as "Otello" (some sources mention that it was a role that he sang 300 times, but I have my doubts about it....considering that Vinay sang it only 246 times and Del Monaco only 218 times....). He sang the role in 1970 at the Teatro Romano in Benevento and at the Castello di Lombardia di Enna.
He sang only once at the Royal Opera House, on Monday, 10th May 1971, the role of Otello. He was not originally cast in this
role. He replaced the original cast member James McCracken, who was said to be 'indisposed' on that night.
The cast for “Otello” in London was as follows:
MONTANO, former Governor of Cyprus – George Macpherson
CASSIO, Captain under Otello – David Hughes
IAGO, Ensign or Ancient under Otello – Peter Glossop
RODERIGO, A Venetian gentleman – John Dobson
OTELLO, Moor of Venice, Governor of Cyprus – James McCracken* (PIER MIRANDA FERRARO)
DESDEMONA, his bride – Gwyneth Jones
EMILIA, her companion and Iago’s wife – Elizabeth Bainbridge
A HERALD – Glynne Thomas
LODOVICO, Ambassador of Venice – Gwynne Howell
In 1972 he sang it at the Teatro Masini in Faenza (Revenna) and in June of 1972 he was invited to sing it in Teheran (Iran). In 1972 he sang for the last time at La Scala. In 1973 he sang "Otello" in Budapest. In the '70s he sang the role in Philadelphia, Hartford and Newark.
In May of 1974 he visited Spain for the last time and sang "Otello" in Valencia and in October of 1975 at The Hague in Holland.
Pier Miranda Ferraro, in the last part of his career, still added two new roles to his repertoire.
In 1970 he sang the role of Erik in Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" in Catania, and in 1977 in Naples "La Visita della Vecchia Signora" de Von Einem (Der Besuch der alten Dame).
Ferraro sango also in London, Brussels and Liege, though I have been unable to find the details of his performances.
Ferraro's farewell to stage was as Otello, in Lecco, in 1981.
After retiring from stage, he was professor of singing at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan during 15 years. He won a good reputation as a reliable teacher of singing. Afterwards he taught at the Accademia "Viotti" in Vercelli; at the Laboratorio Lirico Internazionale di Zogno; at the Accademia Internazionale Katia Ricciarelli in Parma and was invited to give Master Classes, from Milan to Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing. In 1985 he started a managing agency for young singers and opera professionals. This company was later co-run by his daughter Beatrice Ferraro.
In 2003 he was distinguished with the "Giuseppe Lugo Prize" as one of the greatest tenors of the twentieth century.
Pier Miranda Ferraro died of a cardial arrest in his sleep, at his home in Milan, on the 18th of January of 2008. He was 83 years old. He was survived by his wife, four children and 16 grandchildren.
PIER MIRANDA FERRARO REPERTORY
La boheme (Rodolfo) 1951
Tosca (Cavaradossi) 1953
Aida (Radames) 1955
Andrea Chenier (Andrea) 1955
Il trovatore (Manrico) 1955
Madama Butterfly (Pinkerton) 1956
La forza del destino (Alvaro) 1957
Khovantscina (Andrea Khovansky) 1957
Il Principe Igor (Vladimiro)
Ernani (Ernani) 1958
Luisa Millar (Rodolfo) 1958
Carmen (Don Jose) 1958
Don Carlo (Don Carlo) 1958
Il Pirata (Gualtiero) 1959
La Gioconda (Enzo) 1959
Moses (Amenofis) 1959
Turandot (Calaf) 1959
I Vespri Siciliani (Arrigo) 1959
La Madre (Il figlio) 1960
Manon Lescaut (Des Grieux) 1960
Isabeau (Folco) 1962
Otello (Otello) 1963
Guglielmo Ratcliff (Ratcliff) 1963
Rienzi (Rienzi) 1964
La Fanciulla del West (Johnson) 1965
Tannhauser (Tannhauser) 1969
Nabucco (Ísmaele) 1969
L'Olandese Volante (Erik) 1970
Sansone e Dalila (Sansone) 1970
Norma (Pollione) 1973
La visita della vecchia signora (Il borgomastro) 1977
Note: Though his family claimed that he sang 45 roles, I have found out only 31 roles. Which, when and where did he sing the other 14 roles? A mystery....I hope someone will be able to solve it.This is similar to the Del Monaco's website stating that he sang Otello over 400 times, while the book on Del Monaco recommended by the site can only account for less than 300
THE DISCOGRAPHY OF PIER MIRANDA FERRARO
He recorded the role of Enzo in the second discographical version of "La Gioconda" with Maria Callas (1959) for EMI, and the
role of Folco in Mascagni's "Isabeau" with Marcella Pobbe (1962) for CETRA label ("live" from Sanremo, 12.01.1962). His voice
can also be appreciated in "live" performances of "Il Pirata" (with Callas) (January 1959, "Guglielmo Ratcliff"(RAI-1963), "La Forza
del Destino" (with Cerquetti, Protti, Simionato, Christoff, Capecchi, Sanzogno) (RAI, Rome, 09/29/1957) on the Myto Label.
Juan Dzazópulos, March 2008
Additional live performances provided by Daniele Godor:
- TOSCA, with Stella and Guelfi, Capuana, Genova 26.03.1962
- AIDA, with Nilsson, Simionato, MacNeil, Sanzogno, Scala, 21.04.1960
- OTELLO with Taddei, Albanese, Silipigni, Trenton 23.04.1973
- OTELLO with Protti, Santunione, Gavarini, Piacenza, 01.10.1965
- NORMA with Caballe, Cortez, Rescigno, Napoli 11.05.1971
- CARMEN with Maderia, Beecham, 1958