MARIO BASIOLA, Il signore dell’opera
By Daniele Rubboli
Associazione Culturale e Centro Studi “Baritono Mario Basiola”  168 pp  / May 2011

(all photos courtesy Charles Mintzer)

Operanostalgia wishes to to express our thanks to Mr Attilio Cipelletti the president of the Basiola Association for his generosity and kindness


Basiolabookcover
Italians may not produce the most critical singer biographies but they certainly did and do publish the most lavish ones. Especially the ones  subsidized by financial insitutions.  Often too they are hard to find and it often takes ebay (and/or a lot of frustration) to buy such rarities. Last year the Mario Basiola association of Annico published the first biography on one of Italy’s greatest baritones Mario Basiola (1892 - 1965).  The best thing about the biography is that Carlo Marinelli was responsible for the detailed chronology (yes, there is a chronology of 78 pp!!) starting from his first concert in 1917 until his very last performance as Rigoletto in 1952 when Parkinson’s disease made an end to it. Basiola had a career of 35 years including more than 60 roles. He appeared all over the world including North (not south!) America (thanks to Fortunato Gallo), Egypt, Australia, Cuba, Poland and several West and South European countries including my own Flanders.

Here's the performance card on Basiola's career compiled by the late Charles Jahant

 

Basiola-tonio

 

His son Mario Basiola Jr was born in 1935 (died in 1996 in Rome)  in Highland Park (Illinois) and had a remarkable career as a baritone himself  appearing in several world creations. Basiola Jr recorded for DGG and RCA. He is the Shaunard in the Freni/Gedda EMI Bohème and sings in the DGG Don Pasquale featuring Ugo Benelli. Basiola Jr was of course a student of his father as was Aldo Protti. Mario Basiola taught singing in Italy but also in Sydney. Basiola himself was a student of Antonio Cotogni who provided him with an excellent technique based on the principles of the 19th century pre-verismo schooling.
He is best known for his part in the complete versions of Pagliacci (opposite Gigli) and Mme Butterfly (opposite Toti dal Monte)
His solo recordings have appeared on a TIMA club LP Edition and on a CD issued by Bongiovanni . The Tima vinyl edition consisted of two lp's including his Edison and Columbia recordings but also live (!!)excerpts from a 1934 Gioconda in Cremona featuring also Gigli and Gina Cigna and from the same concert an excerpt from Il Figliuol Prodigo. Other live recordings include a complete live 1939 Covent Garden Trovatore opposite Bjoerling and Cigna (CD Legato) and from the same house and year a live Traviata opposite Gigli and Maria Caniglia (CD Eklipse). There are also tapes of live performances circulating from New Zealand with Germana di Giulio and Maria Huder but they haven't appeared on CD yet.

Basiola was the possessor of a warm, rich baritone voice of considerable power and extended range with an all-round easy vocal production all evidence of his excellent training. He is a sympathetic and authorative Sharpless in the Dal Monte/Gigli Butterfly displaying his fine and resonant baritone and his firm Tonio in the Gigli/Pacetti Pagliacci draws admiration as well.
While Basiola was born in a period which boasted a wealth of baritone talent including Galeffi, Franci, Borgioli, Inghilleri and Tagliabue to name but a few there isn’t one single baritone today of the same talent regrettably also including his native Italy.