Tino Folgar


Picture of Tino Folgar

Tino Folgar sings Los Gavilanes: Flor roja
In RA Format

Tino Folgar sings La Pícara Molinera: Paxarin, tú que vuelas

Tino Folgar sings Los de Aragón: Cuantas veces solo
In RA Format

Tino Folgar sings La Canción del Día
In RA Format

Tino Folgar sings Mi caballo murió
In RA Format

Juventino Folgar Ascaso, artistically known as Tino Folgar, was born in Barcelona on the 25 of January of 1892. He was the son of Juan Folgar (originating from Salamanca) and Mrs. Luisa Ascaso (from Huesca).
He studied in Catholic schools in Barcelona and when, at 17 years old ,the family moved to Sarriá he started singing in artistic clubs standing our for his qualities as singer and actor.
A relative noted his extraordinary conditions and obtained for him an audition at the Conservatory of the Liceo in Barcelona where he was heard by Joaquìn Vidal Nunell who was also the singing teacher of the famous soprano Mercedes Capsir. The teacher told him that he had a precious voice, similar to the voice of Giuseppe Anselmi, though at the time Folgar's voice was small but soft and sweet and with a perfect musicality.
Tino Folgar started then his singing studies with a private lady teacher who prepared him for his debut at the Orfeó Gracienc Theatre in Barcelona, on the 1st of February of 1922, as Rodolfo in "La boheme". He soon repeated his success at the Teatro Tívoli in Barcelona. He sang four times "La boheme" and four times "Il barbiere di Siviglia", with laudatory comments from public and critics. The director of Teatro del Liceo advised him to go to Italy for further studies.
The tenor arrived in 1922 to Milan, but unfortunately he chose the wrong teacher, a certain Bellini, who in a short time ruined his voice in a way he could not sing a single note. He did not know what to do, either to go back to Spain with the shame of his failure or to stay in Italy working in any work. In a meeting of Spanish friends he met a bizarre and pictureques character, Esteban Pascual, who taught in the nearly forgotten Porpora singing method. Folgar had faith in this teacher and after one and half year of hard studieds, Tino Folgar recovered his voice and improved his range now being able to reach, vocalizing, a F over the staff.
His Italian debut took place early in 1925 in Acqui, singing "Il barbiere di Siviglia" and "Lucia di Lammermoor". On April 1925 he sang again "Il barbiere di Siviglia" now at the Teatro Sociale in Voghera and on April 16, 1925 "La boheme", also in Voghera.
It was as Almaviva that he made his debut at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome (four performances) in september and october 1925. In April 1926 he was singing "Il barbiere", with Spanish soprano Margarita Salvi, at the Teatro Paganini in Genoa and in November, in the same year, he toured several cities in Holland singing the same opera.
At the end of 1926 he obtained a big success singing the role of Lindoro in "L'italiana in Argelia" by Rossini in the four performances that took place at the Teatro Argentina in Rome, with Conchita Supervía (Isabella), Laura Pasini (Elvira), Vincenzo Bettoni (Mustafá), Carlo Scattola (Taddeo) and the conduction of Vittorio Gui. The first performance took place on the 28 of December of 1926. Later the cast repeated the opera in Turin. Folgar also sang in "La cambiale di matrimonio". In Cremona he sang "Il barbiere" now with the soprano Maria Gentile and the baritone Benvenuto Franci.
The year of 1927 was a very important in the personal and artistic life of Tino Folgar. He married Yole Solito de Solís, a lady that belonged to the Italian nobilty and to a family of art intellectuals and musicians. She was to be his wife for nearly fifty years. Also, that year, he was chosen by "The Gramophone Company" (La Voce del Padrone) to sing the role of the Duke in the first electrical recording of "Rigoletto". The recording sessions took place at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan and in the cast were the soprano Lina Pagliughi, the mezzosoprano Vera De Christoff, the baritone Luigi Piazza and the bass Salvatore Baccaloni, with professors of the orchestra of Teatro alla Scala in Milan, conducted by Carlo Sabajno.
As a member of an Italian Company he toured Holland during four consecutive seasons, singing in "La boheme", "Lucia di Lammermoor", "La traviata", "La favorita", "Rigoletto", "Il barbiere di Siviglia", "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "L'amico Fritz". He also sang in a cycle of concerts in the Low Countries.
Back in Spain, he sang on the 29 of August of 1928 at the Teatro Principal in Zaragoza, "Il barbiere di Siviglia" with the soprano Isabel Soria and the baritone Víctor Damiani. It followed a tour with the soprano Ofelia Nieto, singing "Manon", and with Pilar Duamirg and Víctor Damiani singing "Il barbiere di Siviglia". The performances took palce in Bilbao, Santander and San Sebastián, were he also triumphed as Cavaradossi in "Tosca" with Ofelia Nieto and Víctor Damiani.
At this point of his career he decided to try a new experience singing the traditional Spanish operettas, known as "zarzuelas". He sang his first zarzuela in December of 1928 at the Teatro Victoria in Barcelona, as Américo in the new work, "Martierra" by Jacinto Guerrero, that had been first performed on the 28 of September of the same year, at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, in Madrid, with the Argentinean tenor Rogelio Baldrich. Fogar obtained a great success and was announced as "the magician with the golden voice". At the Victoria he also sang in "Doña Francisquita", "Molinos de Viento", "Los Gavilanes", "Bohemios" and a zarzuela named "En Sevilla está el amor" with music from "The barberof Seville".
In January of 1929 he sang "Doña Francisquita" at the Teatro Olympia in Barcelona with Cora Roga. On the 6th of April of 1929 he sang the role of Fernando in the first performance of "Los Claveles" by José Serrano, at the Teatro Fontalba in Madrid. He sang later in the same theatre "Luisa Fernanda", "El Huésped del Sevillano", "Doña Francisquita", "Los de Aragón", "Bohemios", "Molinos de Viento" and "Los Gavilanes".
On the 9th of December of 1929 he was Torralba in the premiére of "La Ventera de Alcalá" by Pablo Luna, at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, in Madrid.
He also sang the so-called Vienesse operetta with such success that he was nicknamed "the prince of the operetta". He formed his own Company and made tours throughout Spain, offering Spanish versions of classics like "Eva", "The Count of Luxemburg", "The Merry Widow", "Mi amor eres tú" (Spanish version of Lehar's "Friedericke") and "El primo de las Indias" (with Spanish text by the own Folgar for Eduard Künneke's "Der Vetter aus Dingsda").
In 1930 he was called to act in sing in the first Spanish sound picture, "La Canción del Día" , conducted by George Berthold Jamuelson. The picture was first exhibited at the Real Cinema in Madrid, on the 9th of April of 1930.
It was also in 1930 that he visited Argentina for the first time as a member of the Zarzuela Company of Maestro Jacinto Guerrero with Laura Nieto as first soprano. His debut was at the Teatro Onrubia in Buenos Aires with "El Huésped del Sevillano". The Company stayed six months singing not only in the capital city but also in the provinces and in Montevideo (Uruguay).
In 1931 Tino Folgar visited England. He sang in concerts broadcasted by the BBC, made several gramophone records, some sung in English, and filmed a short film for the British Pathé singing "Señorita" a song he was also the author.
Back in Spain he formed a new operetta company singing everywhere in Spain until the end of the Civil War, when the company was forced to dissolve for economic reasons.
In 1941 he sang at the Teatro Victoria in Barcelona, "La Montería" and "La Generala". In July of 1945 he visited Argentina for the second time, singing in Radio Splendid, in Buenos Aires, during seven months. He also sang in Radio Belgrano and in the Argentinean provinces. In November he also sang in Montevideo. The last time he sang in Montevideo was on the 22 of October of 1948 in a recital at the Teatro Solís where he sang a program that included from zarzuela arias of "Los Gavilanes" and "Don Manolito" up to opera arias from "I pescatori di perle" and "Manon".
He continued singing in Spain until 1952 when he was called to stand for the indisposed baritone Luis Sagi-Vela in "Los Claveles" and "El Conde de Luxemburgo". It was his farewell to the theatre.
He made his residence in Buenos Aires where he had a well known singing academy.
His health was delicate and his body was very weak after May 1982. From time to time he gave lessons to a reduced group of young singers but his health deteriorated so much that had to be interned in the Spanish Hospital in Buenos Aires.
Tino Folgar died in Buenos Aires on the 31st of December of 1982. Next day he was buried in the Cementerio de Chacarita, his tomb is very near to that of his beloved wife.


Tino Folgar recorded more than 80 records (78 rpm) besides the already mentioned complete "Rigoletto" (1927) (a version that after eighty years still is available in CD).
He sang in selections from the zarzuelas "Los Bohemios", "Martierra", "Molinos de Viento", "Los Flamencos" and "Luisa Fernanda". He has beautiful recordings of the principal zarzuela tenor arias. Also remarkable are his versions of Catalonian songs like "Pel teu amor", "L'Emigrant", "Canço de Taverne", "Romanc de Santa Llucia" and "Muntanyenca". He even recorded Argentinean tangos: "Tomo y Obligo", "Canto por no llorar", "Congojas", "Negro" and "Mi caballo murió". While in London he recorded among others (in English), "Serenade" (from Lehar's "Frasquita"), "Just one of my dreams" and "Lady of Spain".


I wish to thank Juan Dzazopulos for the recordings and biographical information.

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