Opera Scotland

Ugo Benelli Suggest updates

Born Genoa,  20 January 1935.

Italian tenor.

Ugo Benelli was recognised as one of the leading exponents of the tenore di grazia repertoire, at his peak in the 1960s and '70s.  He continued to sing a number of character roles, not retiring from the stage until 2004,  when he became a succesful teacher.

He won a competition sponsored by La Scala and studied there under Ettore Campogalliani.  In 1958 he joined the Opera da Camera di Milano for a tour of South America, where his first solo role was in Salieri's Arlecchinata at Montevideo.

His official debut was in 1960 at Barcelona (Fenton).  He first appeared at La Scala Milan in 1963 (Brighella Ariadne auf Naxos) then in 1967 as Giocondo La pietra del paragone.  He continued to sing regularly at La Scala until 1999.

He appeared at all the main Italian opera houses.  His debut at the Fenice (Venice) came in 1967 as Filipeto in I quattro rusteghi (Wolf-Ferrari) and the same year he appeared at the San Carlo (Naples) as Nemorino.

Appearances elsewhere on the continent included Spain (Barcelona); Switzerland (Geneva,  Zurich); Germany (Bonn,  Cologne,  Wiesbaden,  Düsseldorf); France (Paris,  Aix-en-Provence) and Austria (Vienna,  Salzburg).  He also worked in North and South America.  He sang at the New York Met in 1986 (Basilio Le nozze di Figaro).

In Ireland he sang in five seasons at the Wexford Festival, beginning in 1965 Mozart (Belfiore La finta giardiniera). 1966 Auber (Title role Fra Diavolo); 1969 Haydn (Nencio L'infedeltà delusa);  1970 Rossini (Bertrando L'inganno felice) and Donizetti (Ernesto Il giovedì grasso);  1978 Haydn (Ecclitico Il mondo della luna).

British appearances were mainly at Glyndebourne, in four seasons beginning in 1967 Donizetti (Nemorino);  1970 Rossini (Don Narciso Il turco in Italia);  1982 Rossini (Almaviva) and Prokofiev (Truffaldino Love for Three Oranges);  1984 Mozart (Don Basilio).

With the Royal Opera Covent Garden he appeared in 1974 - Donizetti (Ernesto Don Pasquale).

He sang twice at the Edinburgh Festival, in 1969 with the Teatro Comunale Florence (Rinuccio Gianni Schicchi)  and 1976 with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Lindoro L'italiana in Algeri).

Directors he worked with include Franco Zeffirelli, Luchino Visconti and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle.

He appears on several operatic recordings including:  Piccinni (Marchese La buona figliuola);  Rossini (Norfolk Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra,  Almaviva Il barbiere di Siviglia,  Ramiro La cenerentola);  Donizetti (Ernesto Don Pasquale);   Leoncavallo (Beppe Pagliacci);   Meyerbeer (Osmino Il crociato in Egitto);   Rota (Fadinard Il cappello di paglia di Firenze).   Recordings of concert works include the Mozart Requiem and Rossini Messa di Gloria.

Roles in Scotland

Rinuccio Zita's nephew, aged twenty-four
Gianni Schicchi 1969
Lindoro MustafĂ 's Italian slave, in love with Isabella
Italiana in Algeri 1976

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