The Spanish tenor Delfín Pulido Rivas was born in Santa Cruz de la Zarza (Toledo) on the 23rd December 1897. He belonged to a modest family and his father was a blacksmith. The young Delfín worked with his father until he was called for the military service and then was sent to Morocco and fought in the Riff war.
Back in Spain he studied singing with José María Elvira and started his career at the opera. He made his debut in the last season of the old Teatro Real in Madrid on December 23, 1924 singing the Duke in "Rigoletto" with Luisa Pasini, Carlo Galeffi and Alexander Griff.
He travelled to Milan and was chosen among twelve young tenors for a tour in several Italian cities. His repertoire included L'elisir d'amore, La Sonnambula, L'amico Fritz, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor and Don Pasquale.
He then returned to Spain and as the Teatro Real was closed, an opera season was organized in Madrid at the Teatro Apolo. Pulido was engaged to sing Almaviva in "Il barbiere di Siviglia" with Angeles Ottein, Víctor Damiani, Manola Guardiola, Aníbal Vela and Carlos del Pozo. The first performance took place in January 16, 1926.
While Pulido was in Madrid, at the Teatro Apolo took place the first performance of "El Huésped del Sevillano" a new zarzuela by Jacinto Guerrero, on December 3rd, 1926 with the sopranos Selica Pérez Carpio and Rosario Leonís. The new work was warmly received except for the Mexican tenor Ricardo G. de Lara who sang the role of Juan Luis and was a complete failure. In despair, the composer called Pulido who learnt the role in 24 hours and was enthusiastically received by the audience and critics. His success was so great that he has always been considered as the tenor who sang this zarzuela in the first performance. He sang more than 150 performances of "El Huésped del Sevillano" only at the Apolo and then hundreds more throughout Spain.
The Spanish composers asked him to sing in the "premieres" of their new zarzuelas, among them:
"Los de Aragón" by José Serrano. Teatro del Centro (Madrid), 16 April 1927.
Role: Agustín (with María Badía)
"Las Hilanderas" by José Serrano. Teatro El Dorado (Barcelona), 3 December 1927. Role: Leandro (with Flora Pereira and Rosario Leonís)
"La Marchenera" by Federico Moreno Torroba. Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid),
7 April 1928. Role: Don Félix (with María Badía and Felisa Herrero)
"Al Dorarse las Espigas" by Francisco Balaguer. Teatro Principal (Zaragoza)
15 September 1928. Role: Peniya (with Felisa Herrero and José Luis Lloret)
"El Romeral" by Fernando Díaz Giles. Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid), 18 June 1929. Role: Anselmo (with Felisa Herrero)
"Baturra de Temple" by Federico Moreno Torroba. Teatro Circo (Zaragoza)
5 November 1929
In 1931 he formed a Zarzuela Company with the soprano Felisa Herrero and the baritone José María Aguilar and organized a tour for Central and South America. In Buenos Aires they sang at the Teatro Mayo and at the Teatro Avenida.
The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) surprised him in the sieged Madrid and, consequently, during these years his activity was diminished by force, but yet he obtained triumphs singing zarzuelas like "Doña Francisquita" and "Los Claveles" in the Teatro Pardiñas in Madrid, or the operetta "La casa de las tres niñas" ("Das Dreimäderlhaus" with music by Schubert, and known in English as "Blossom Time" and "Lilac Time") sung in Murcia, in 1936 with the company formed by the baritone Pedro Terol.
Only for having sung in Madrid (under a Republican government) during the Civil War .he could not sing in Spain for several years after the war. This unfair treatment filled him with bitterness and made up his mind not to sing anymore. He started a new career as teacher of singing.
In 1943 he participated in a Spanish film: "Canelita en rama" with a cast that included Juanita Reina, Pastora Imperio and José María Seoane. I assume it was a character role and without singing at all.
Pulido married Emeina Hijón and they had three children.
Delfín Pulido died, completely forgotten, on 18 November 1986, at 88 years old.
Pulido's voice was warm and very pleasant in quality and color. He possessed a correct technique that allowed him to sing the lyric repertoire in opera and most zarzuela repertoire without problems. It is said that his voice was rather short and light, but it had enough weigh for the music he sang. He was a distinguished tenor in Spain, during hard competitive times. The great tenors Fleta, Lázaro and Cortis were still active and sang zarzuela whenever it was necessary. And then we have Pau Civil, Tino Folgar, Juan García, Emilio Vendrell, Pepe Romeu, Rogelio Baldrich, Faustino Arregui, Juan Rosich, Cayetano Peñalver, Juan De Casenave, Ricardo Mayral, all very good tenors who made careers in opera and zarzuela during the late '20s and '30's of the last century.
Pulido left more than 50 sides of zarzuela and songs records most of them completely unknown to collectors. I have been able to gather the details only for about 20 sides in what could be called a project to discography.