Franco Corelli

Franco Corelli inherited the mantle of Caruso and Gigli to become possibly the greatest Italian tenor of the 1950s and ’60s.

The combination of being tall, dark and handsome and in possession of a superlative tenor voice is rare in the opera world, but Corelli had it all (his nickname, of ‘golden thighs’ gives a measure of his sex appeal). Listening to his voice today, it can seem old-fashioned, a throwback to a former era, with a rapid vibrato and a tendency to show off. He would hold high notes far beyond their written worth (12 seconds in the great cry of ‘Vittoria!’ during a Covent Garden Tosca, for instance), and some critics made a point of disapproving of what they regarded as ‘cheap effects’. However, his qualities as a singer shine through in the recordings and in contemporary accounts: a dark, lustrous voice with a rich palette of thickly spread colours that enabled him to explore the psychological depths in the great Verdi and Puccini roles.


Ashutosh Khandekar

In his own words: ‘Many who teach [larynx-lowering] cause their pupils to force their voices to the point of ruination’


Greatest recording: Donizetti Poliuto (recorded live at La Scala, 1960) EMI 565 4482 (2 discs)