Giuseppe Taddei (1916-2010)

Baritone who worked closely with Herbert von Karajan dies


The operatic baritone Giuseppe Taddei has died at the age of 93 following an illustrious career spanning more than half a century. Rising to international fame in the post-war years, Taddei will be remembered for his versatility and charismatic performances with great conductors such as Herbert von Karajan.

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Born in Genoa in 1916, Taddei trained in Rome, where he made his operatic debut in 1936 as the Herald in Wagner’s Lohengrin. Following conscription into the Italian army in 1942, and internment at a German POW camp, he resumed his opera career in 1946 with two seasons at the Vienna State Opera.

Taddei forged an international reputation in opera houses across Europe, playing a wide range of roles. His London debut came in 1947 at the Cambridge Theatre, and he made his Salzburg Festival debut the following year under Herbert von Karajan, playing Mozart’s Figaro.

A fixture at La Scala (1948-61), and debuts at Teatro San Carlo (1948) and Covent Garden (1960), followed. A remarkably late New York Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1985, aged 69, in the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff.

Taddei enjoyed a close association with Karajan throughout his career, with performances and recordings of Puccini’s Tosca (1962) and La bohème (1963), Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (1965) and Verdi’s Falstaff (1982).

Other notable recordings included Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni with Carlo Maria Giulini, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Linda di Chamounix with Tullio Serafin, and Mozart’s Così fan tutte with Karl Böhm. Taddei, whose voice was described in The Times as ‘voluminous, richly mellifluous and admirably flexible’, passed away in Rome on 2 June.

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Rebecca Thumpston