Liborio Simonella

(1923-2007)

Picture of Liborio Simonella as Rodolfo

Picture of Liborio Simonella as Mario

Picture of Liborio Simonella in Aida
Argentinian tenor. He was born in Córdoba on 10 January 1923. He studied firstly at the Instituto San José in his native city and he was noted by his vocal conditions that allowed him to sing in the Chorus of the Institute. Later on he studied at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba and obtained a title as Civil Engineer.
His first activities in opera where as a "comprimario" tenor at the Teatro del Libertador, in Córdoba. There he sang in 1958 as Arturo in "Lucia di Lammermoor" with soprano Alicia Allerand and tenor Bruno Landi, conducted by Reinaldo Zamboni.
He moved to Buenos Aires to study singing with Mario Melani, Primavera de Sivieri and Angel Celega. Liborio Simonella made his debut as first tenor, rather late in his life. He was 44 years old. His debut took place at the Teatro Colón, in Buenos Aires, on 24 November 1967, as Roberto in Puccini's "Le Villi". It was the first time the opera was staged in Argentina. The other seasoned artists in the cast were the soprano Matilde De Lupka and the baritone Gian Piero Mastromei, conducting Juan Emilio Martini. He sang the three performances of the opera on November 24, 26 and 28. He became a sort of "house tenor" at the Teatro Colón and he sang in the following years.

1970
"Lucrezia" (Ottorino Respighi) ( Role: Collatino)

1972
"Tosca" (Role: Cavaradossi)

1973
"Medea" (One act opera by Claudio Guido-Drei) (World première) Role: Jasón (Julio 1, 3, 7, 11, 13)
"La boheme" (Role: Rodolfo)

1974
"La boheme"
"Cavalleria Rusticana" (Role: Turiddu)
"El Matrero" (Felipe Boero) (Role: Pedro Cruz) (October 15, 18, 20, 23,26)

1975
"Madama Butterfly" (Role: Pinkerton)
"El Matrero" (Role: Pedro Cruz) (April 13, 16, 19, 20)
"Tosca" (Role: Cavaradossi)
"Andrea Chenier" (Role: Chenier)
"Elektra" (Role: Aegisth)
"Boris Godounov" (Role: Dimitri)

1976
"Carmen" (Role: Don José)
"La Vida Breve" (Role: Paco)

1977
"Aida" (Role: Radames)

1978
"Tosca" (Role: Cavaradossi)

"Ollantay" (Constantino Gaito) (Role: Ollantay)
1979
"Bodas de Sangre" (Juan José Castro) (Role: Leonardo) (with Nati Mistral)

1982
"Un Ballo in Maschera" (Role: Riccardo)
"Khovanchina" (Role: Prince Golitzin)
"La Boheme" (Leoncavallo) (Role: Marcello)

1983
"Aida" (Role: Radames)
"Aurora" (Héctor Panizza) (Role: Mariano)

1984
"Madama Butterfly" (Role: Pinkerton)
"War and Peace" (Sergei Prokofiev) (Role: Pierre Bezukhov)

1985
"Boris Godounov" (Role: Dimitri)
"Norma" (Role: Pollione)
"La Forza del Destino" (Role: Alvaro)
"Carmen" (Role: Don José)

1986
"La Fanciulla del West" (Role: Dick Johnson)

1987
"Otello" (Role: Otello)

1988
"Nabucco" (Role: Ísmaele)

1989
"Aida" (Role: Radames)

1990
"Aida" (Role: Radames)

1992
"Pagliacci" (Role: Canio)

(It is strange but his name does not appear in the 1968-1969-1971-1980-1981 and 1991 seasons)

"We remember very well the warm reception givent by the public to the young singer from Córdoba. He overcame all the problems of making a debut at the Colón and produced an unsupassable impression with his sound and vibrant voice and a facility in his high register not frequently found within our scarce tenors" (Enzo Valenti Ferro in his book
"Las Voces Teatro Colón 1908-1982" (Buenos Aires, 1983).

On 18 November 1990 he sang "Otello" at the Teatro Argentino de La Plata with María Rosa Farré and Ricardo Yost. This performance commemorated the one hundred years of the theater, and as it had been destroyed by a fire, the performance took place on the stage of the former Rocha Cinema.
Simonella sang in the most important Argentinian cities like Córdoba, Rosario, Tucumán and Mendoza. Though his most frequent stage was that of the Teatro Colón, he sang in other South American countries. He sang in Porto Alegre (Brazil), in 1971 the main role in "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" and in 1978 he sang at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, for the first time in his career, the main role in Verdi's "Otello" with Jeannette Pilou, Nelson Portella and the conducting of Antonio Tauriello (July 8, 11, 14, 16 and 19).
He visited Chile in three opportunities to sing at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago. In 1984 he was Samson in "Samson et Dalila". In 1990 he sang Canio in "Pagliacci" (one of his most successful and ovationed roles) and for the last time in 1992 as Foresto in "Attila". In October 1991 he sang in Lima (Perú) "Pagliacci" obtaining a triumph, inspite of his age, as Canio.
The German movie director Werner Herzog invited him to sing in his film "Fitzcarraldo" (1982). He acted and sang there, "A te o cara" from "I Puritani", with Isabel Martìnez de Cisneros, Cristina Montilla and the Spanish baritone Jesús Goiri. It was his only appearance in movies.
On 9 July 1989 he participated in a Gala Performance at the Teatro Colón, singing the second scene from the second act of "Aida" with Mabel Veleris, Nelibel Martínez, Ricardo Yost, Omar Brandan, Giannantonio Verlato and conductor Pedro Ignacio Calderón. The concert was televised and now we can see and hear Simonella in Youtube. (It is a pity that Simonella did not make commercial recordings).
In the last years of his career he had to sing, without rehearsals, the role of Radames in "Aida" at the Teatro Colón. The Italian tenor Walter Donati had been engaged but did not arrive to Buenos Aires. Therefore, Simonella sang successfully the six scheduled performances in September 1990.
The last performance he sang at the Colón was on the 21 July 1992. He sang "Pagliacci" with María Rosa Ferré, Luis Gaeta, Gustavo Gibert and the conductor was Reinaldo Censabella.
We believe that Simonella sang more than 150 performances only at the Teatro Colón, but besides the South American countries already mentioned, it is said that he also sang in Europe and South Africa. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any reference on these performances.
Afterwards he appeared in some concerts at the Salón Dorado of the Teatro Colón and he was also invited to participate as member of the jury in musical contests.
In the 90's he was appreciated as singing teacher in Buenos Aires. Among his many pupils the most famous, undoubtly, has been the tenor Marcelo Álvarez (he was also born in Córdoba, on 27 February 1962) today considered one of the best international lyric tenors.
During the last years of his life he suffered from Parkinson's disease and retired to his home town, Córdoba, where he died, alone and forgotten on 7 July 2007, at 84 years old.
Liborio Simonella sings Otello: Già nella notte densa, with Marta Lombardi (1936-2008)
Picture of Marta Lombardi
Salón Dorado del Teatro Colón-Buenos Aires
In RA Format

Liborio Simonella sings Aida: Duo to end of act, with Adelaida Negri, Ricardo Yost and Fiorenza Cossotto
In RA Format
I wish to thank Juan Dzazópulos for the biographical notes.

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