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Salvatore Baccaloni (April 14, 1900 – December 31, 1969) was an Italian bass, often regarded as the greatest buffo artist of the 20th century.

Life and career

Baccaloni was born in Romemarker, Italymarker, after attending the Sistine Chapelmarker choir school as a child, he studied voice with the celebrated baritone Giuseppe Kaschmann (1847-1925). He made his professional debut as Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, at the Teatro Adriano, in Rome, in 1922.

Baccaloni made his debut at La Scalamarker in 1926, in Ildebrando Pizzetti's Debora e Jaele. He sang the standard bass roles there, such as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, etc. Noticed and encouraged by Arturo Toscanini, he specialized in comic roles, such as Leporello in Don Giovanni, Dulcamara in Elisir d'amore, Don Pasquale, Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Falstaff, Gianni Schicchi, as well as characther roles such as Benoit in La Bohème, the sacristan in Tosca. He createdthe Lawyer in Umberto Giordano's Il re (La Scala, 1929) as well as roles in Riccardo Zandonai's La Farsa amorosa (Rome, 1933) and Vigna by Guerrini (Rome, 1935).

Baccaloni enjoyed a successful international career as well, making hisdebut at the Royal Opera Housemarker in London as Timur in Turandot in 1928, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Melitone in La forza del destino in 1930, at the Glyndebourne Festival as Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte in 1936, in San Franciscomarker as Leporello in 1938, and at the Metropolitan Opera on December 7, 1940, as Bartolo in Nozze di Figaro. He was to remain at the Met until 1962. Baccaloni also appeared frequently in operas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker with various opera companies during the 1950s through 1966. He made his debut with the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company in 1951 in the title role of Don Pasquale, his debut with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company in 1956 as Benoît/Alcindoro La bohème, and his debut with the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company in 1959 as Benoît/Alcindoro. He appeared with all three companies a number of times.

Salvatore Baccaloni is generally considered the finest comic bass of his time. Possessing a rich and resonant voice, with an impeccable diction and polished musicianship, though he could be occasionally undisciplined on stage with his abundant comic talents.

Baccaloni died in New York Citymarker, on New Year's Eve, 1969, at the age of 69.


  • Alain Pâris, Dictionnaire des interprètes et de l'interpretation musicale au XX siècle (2 vols), Ed. Robert Laffont (Bouquins, Paris 1982, 4th Edn. 1995, 5th Edn 2004). ISBN 2-221-06660-X
  • D. Hamilton (ed.),The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the World of Opera (Simon and Schuster, New York 1987). ISBN 0-671-16732-X
  • Roland Mancini and Jean-Jacques Rouveroux, (orig. H. Rosenthal and J. Warrack, French edition), Guide de l’opéra, Les indispensables de la musique (Fayard, 1995). ISBN 2-213-01563-6

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