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Franco Corelli, 82; Tenor Blended Versatility, Looks

October 30, 2003|From Associated Press

ROME — Franco Corelli, whose large, ringing voice and matinee-idol looks made him one of the leading tenors of the 20th century, has died, the ANSA news agency said. He was 82.

Corelli had been hospitalized in August following what was believed to be a stroke. ANSA said Corelli died in the same Milan hospital where he was being treated. The agency did not specify the date of Corelli's death.

In a career that took him from La Scala to New York's Metropolitan Opera and other great stages in between, Corelli made his opera debut in 1951 at Spoleto as Don Jose in "Carmen."

He inaugurated the opera season at Milan's Teatro alla Scala three years later with Maria Callas, singing in Spontini's "La Vestale." He made his debut at the Royal Opera in London in 1957 as Cavaradossi in Puccini's "Tosca," becoming one of the world's finest spinto tenors.

He appeared frequently at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, which was for many years his favorite venue.

Corelli sang 368 performances at the Met, where he made his debut on Jan. 27, 1961, as Manrico in Verdi's "Il Trovatore" opposite soprano Leontyne Price, who also made her house debut that night.

His final performance with the Met was on tour in Puccini's "La Boheme" on June 28, 1975.

He made his Vienna State Opera debut in 1963.

Corelli was a well-regarded romantic lead: a lyric tenor with great versatility, he also had a strapping and muscular build. As he developed his upper register, he took on and scored successes in all the great tenor roles, performing in Verdi's "Don Carlo," "La Forza del Destino," "Aida" and "Ernani," Puccini's "Turandot," and Giordano's "Andrea Chenier."

He appeared in opera houses around the globe with such greats as Maria Callas, with whom he had a special partnership for many years, Renata Tebaldi, Birgit Nilsson and Joan Sutherland.

The mayor of Corelli's hometown of Ancona, Fabio Sturani, sent a message of condolence to Corelli's family, calling Corelli one of the most "refined" tenors in Italian lyric opera.

As his voice aged, Corelli sang fewer operas and concentrated more on concerts. He retired in 1976, although he was present as a special guest in October 2002 at a Milan awards ceremony.

Corelli studied at the Liceo Musicale, Pesaro. In 1958, he married Loretta Di Lelio, who survives him.

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