Hailed as a true ‘tenore di grazia’, Schipa bewitched audiences with vocal clarity, musical subtlety and interpretative elegance rather than technical fireworks.
Few tenors have made so much out of relatively little as Tito Schipa. Rather limited in range and dynamic breadth, even lacking a particularly attractive vocal timbre, he still possessed the greatest gift of all – the ability to make a singing line and project it to every corner of an enraptured hall. In the lyric bel canto repertoire he reigned supreme, with an exquisite sense of shading, nuance and rubato, and miraculous diction which seemed to make every vowel speak.
A global superstar, he became a fully-fledged matinee idol in America, which even forgave his fascist sympathies during World War II. His classic version of Donizetti’s ‘Una furtiva lagrima’ remains a lesson to any singer and an expressive tour de force, crowned by the perfectly judged, swoon-inducing diminuendo which was a Schipa trademark.
In his own words: ‘I never forced my voice. I never sang what I could not sing. That is my only secret.’
Greatest recording: Tito Schipa Nimbus NI 7813