From Development server
7 September 2006

Paolo Montarsolo, 81, Italian Basso Buffo and Frequent Collaborator in Ponnelle Stagings, Has Died

Portici, Italy, March 16, 1925 - Rome, August 31, 2006

Paolo Montarsolo
Paolo Montarsolo, 81, an Italian bass whose adroit work in opera buffa and comedic roles during the 1950s '60s and '70s helped establish an international career on stages from Milan to New York to Dallas, has died.

Born in Portici, Italy in 1925, the bass made his professional stage debut at the Bologna Opera in 1950 as Luardo in Wolf-Ferrari's I Quattro Rusteghi after studies at the Naples Conservatory. He joined La Scala in 1952 and remained there for ten seasons as a resident artist.

Elegant, adaptable and keenly funny, Montarsolo was a frequent participant in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's stagings of Mozart and Rossini comedies; they collaborated on La Scala productions of Così fan tutte (in which Montarsolo sang Don Alfonso), Le Nozze di Figaro (Don Bartolo), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Don Basilio), La Cenerentola (Don Magnifico) and L'Italiana in Algeri (Mustafà). The bass's deft work in Ponnelle's films of Barbiere and Cenerentola is now available on DVD. Mustafà also marked Montarsolo's first appearance at Glyndebourne (1957), as well as his U.S. debut, at Dallas Opera (1957). His Lyric Opera of Chicago bow, in 1958, was as Don Basilio in Barbiere; San Francisco Opera welcomed him as Don Magnifico in 1969. Other signature roles for Montarsolo included Dulcamara in L'Elisir d'Amore and the title role in Don Pasquale, the latter of which he sang at his Metropolitan Opera debut, in 1975.

His forty-five-performance tally at the Met included Mustafà in the company's 1986 telecast of L'Italiana starring Marilyn Horne. Montarsolo made his final stage appearance in 1997, as Geronte in Manon Lescaut at Glyndebourne, but remained active as a teacher until April of this year.

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