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Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200 Years, vol. 2 by Stefan Zucker, 6″ X 9″ X 352 pp., with nearly 200 lithographs and photographs, beautifully reproduced.

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Stefan Zucker on six revolutions that have reshaped singing.

In this volume, in discussions with Stefan, Franco Corelli looks back on his life and career. Here are a few examples:

FC on the “Rome Walkout”: Callas was a little sick, and that didn’t permit her to sing at her best. Some in the audience heckled her. When she came offstage after Act I she was completely calm, but then she began to stew and announced she was canceling. The management went to her, to push her to continue the performance. She became a lioness and began to scream. She threw some vases and a chair. Little by little she lost her voice. When she left the theater, however, she looked elegant, as if nothing had happened.

SZ: Are you suggested that she could have continued the performance had she not started to scream?

FC: Absolutely. She was in possession of a fabulous voice and an excellent technique. As late as 1958 she always was able to sing. She could have continued.

FC: There’s always rivalry onstage. To go up against Nilsson I had to learn how to put forth 110 percent of the voice that I had. At La Scala in 1964 they screamed “hams” at us because we held high notes so long, trying to outdo each other in Turandot. Nilsson was born dominant—her voice was, too.

FC: In the Faust recording Ghiaurov screamed and was only good in the laugh. Sutherland hooted. I was the only one who truly sang, with a free voice and an expressive top. I threw away some recitatives, though, because I didn’t know them well enough.

SZ: Are you able to judge to what extent your pleasing appearance affected your career?

FC: Besides voice, musicality and physique du rôle are important. Callas also said that you need a nice physique du rôle. If I hadn’t had my voice my appearance wouldn’t have helped. But if I were a hunchback I would not have had the career that I did.

Some chapters focus on Corelli’s personal life and how it intertwined with his singing, including interviews with his wife and two long-term mistresses.

Mrs. Corelli: I was extremely jealous. I didn’t have ten fingernails, I had twenty, to scratch out the eyes of women who were after Franco. I gave up my singing career to keep an eye on him. Still, if a man is determined to cheat there’s nothing you can do about it.

Corelli’s letters to Lauri-Volpi: some are affecting.

FC: People assume that in old age I am hearing Verdi and Puccini in my mind’s ear. No! The music I am hearing and that keeps me going is the sound of Teresa Zylis-Gara having orgasms. She was my great love, and I think about her all the time. She was the reason I made so many pretexts to send Loretta [Mrs. Corelli] back to Italy.

FC: Barbieri had paid people not only to applaud her but also to boo me. The man I assaulted had been paid by her!

Loretta’s past was the real reason Corelli and Boris Christoff dueled with swords on the stage of the Rome Opera. (They wounded one another.)

Three unsatisfactory Corelli biographies and an OK one as well as John Potter’s Tenors.

Corelli had a no-holds-barred rivalry with Del Monaco, with each trying to block the other’s career.

Roberto Bauer (Rudolf Bing’s Italian factotum): Franco told La Scala as well that he wouldn’t sing anymore in seasons that also include Del Monaco… He says that he knows himself very well and realizes that he is capable of socking Del Monaco in the jaw if he ran into him unexpectedly.

Written with the help of The Metropolitan Opera Archives, the three volumes are a collectors item. They contain 350 lithographs and photographs, many published for the first time, of tenors from the 1820s to today. In addition to photographs, in this volume the Archives contributes twenty-one pages of correspondence by Rudolf Bing and others about the Corelli–Del Monaco rivalry, and John Pennino of the Archives provides a chapter comparing the fees the Met paid Corelli, Del Monaco and Callas.

Sample PDFs: