Cesare Siepi

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Cesare Siepi (February 10, 1923 – July 5, 2010) was an Italian opera singer, generally considered to have been one of the finest basses of the post-war period. His voice was characterised by a deep, warm timbre, and a ringing, vibrant upper register. On stage, his tall, striking presence and elegance of phrasing made him a natural Don Giovanni, among his many other roles. He can be seen in that role on video from Salzburg, under the baton of Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Early career

Born in Milan, he began singing as a member of a madrigal group. He often claimed to have been largely self-taught, having attended the music conservatory in his home city for just a short time. His operatic career was interrupted by World War II. After his debut in 1941 (in Schio, near Venice, as Sparafucile in Rigoletto), Siepi, an opponent of the fascist regime, fled to Switzerland.

After the end of the war his career immediately took off. Success as Zaccaria in Nabucco at La Fenice in Venice was followed by the first of many engagements at La Scala, Milan. His early engagements there were in the Verdi bass roles, the title role in Boito's Mefistofele under Arturo Toscanini, as Colline in La bohème, and in La Gioconda, La favorite, and I puritani.

International success

His international reputation was established in 1950, when Sir Rudolf Bing brought him to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to open the 1950 season as King Philip II in Don Carlo. He was to remain...
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