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Subject: Mario Del Monaco
From: Charles Handelman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Charles Handelman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 30 May 1998 18:55:20 -0400
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 Hello all,
    I just realized that this past Wednesday,may 27th,was the birthday
(1915) of one of the great tenors of the century,Mario Del Monaco. I had
the pleasure of seeing him about 40 times at the old Met;in fact the first
singer I EVER laid eyes upon live was Mario in my first opera (Aida.)All  I
remember is a set of brilliant white teeth,but as the years past I realzied
that behind those teeth was a fabulous instrument,flawed in some ways, but
none the less a great basic sound.I always called it a "bronze column of
sound from bottom to top."
    The del Monaco voice is much less effective on recordings because the
main problem with his vocal production,the passaggio,and covering so low,
is quite obvious and often disconcerting when you simply listen;I always
noted that in person this problem was partially "filtered out" and so the
entire "package" was far more rewarding in the live performance.
  He has been accused of being a "yeller" and surely he was not the most
subtle of artists,but he tried very hard to make softer sounds,strangulated
as some of them might become,and he lets out a very beautiful high B flat
pianissimo with Milanov in the final Aida duet ("Si schiude il ciel") and
in other areas. Mario never faked it...he gave all he could and on stage he
was a true house of fire, especially in the years from 1951 to around 1960
B.C. (Before Corelli).
    One of my friends relates how he was a super in act three of one of
those great 1955 Otellos and at the moment that Del Monaco sang the line to
Tebaldi, "Anima mia,ti maledICO," my friend was standing right in front of
him,and got that SQUILLO right in his face!! I had a sort of similar
experience onmce,when he came out the stage door and said,"Hello
,boys!"giving me quite a headache.
    We loved Mario so much,and we did feel badly when he had the car
accident and the middle voice became very embarrassing(although the top was
fabulous until the last video,Paris 1976).He had the very unfortunate
kidney problem,went through painful dialysis treatment,and dioed at only
the age of 67. A friend sent me photos of his visits to Mario in his last
years,and he loved him so much he named his son after him.."Mario Del
Monaco Boni."
  When you watch those Tokyo videos,you will see the eyes pop,the hand
raised, and the vocal problems are seen at times (The Celeste Aida is
awful!),but the man was such an exciting singer and since his era,with
Corelli and Tucker overlapping those years, we have NEVER had that kind of
excitement in a dramatic tenor.
 I hope more people will appreciate what he contributed and stop the
trashing ofthe man for some of his rather "loud" tones..I would give plenty
of Lire to see another Radames walk across the stage at the end of the Nile
Scene holding the "Io resto a te" forever,or a Samson running out of the
tent to sing that "Trahison" with incredible brilliance. May Mario rest in
peace and may you all appreciate his greatness!  as ever  Charlie

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