Piero Cappuccilli (November 9, 1926 – July 11, 2005) was an Italian operatic baritone. Best known for his interpretations of Verdi roles, he was widely regarded as one of the finest Italian baritones of the second half of the 20th century. He was enormously admired within the field of opera for his rich and abundant voice, fine vocal technique and exceptional breath control. In the great Italian tradition he fused words and music into elegant phrases. He focused on Italian repertory, particularly the operas of Verdi, singing 17 major roles.
Born in Trieste, Cappuccilli originally intended to become an architect. He auditioned at a local opera house in 1949, where Luciano Donnaggio (a retired singer beginning a second career as a teacher) heard him and urged him to study. Cappuccilli was still reluctant, believing he had a better potential career as an architect, and even briefly discontinued his lessons, until Donnaggio's urging and the offer of free lessons persuaded him to resume studies in 1950. He studied with Luciano Donaggio in his native city. After encouragement from relatives decided to pursue a career in opera and made his stage debut there in 1951, singing small parts.
In 1955, Cappuccilli auditioned for La Scala in Milan, where the auditioners, deeply impressed, encourage him to enter the Viotti competition. After his first place award, he made his official operatic debut in 1957 at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan, singing Tonio in Pagliacci. In 1960, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Giorgio Germont in La traviata, which was to be his only performance at the Met.
Cappuccilli spent most of his career singing in Europe, with only infrequent travels to North and South America. He made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala in 1964, as Enrico, at the Royal Opera House in London as Germont in 1967, and his Opéra de Paris debut took place in 1978, as Amonasro. He also appeared at the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. He worked with the greatest European conductors of his time (Karajan, Gavazzeni, Abbado, Kleiber) and became one of the finest interpreters of the Italian repertoire.
Cappuccilli was highly respected as a "Verdi baritone", where his beautiful voice, fine vocal technique, musical elegance and dignified stage presence were shown to their best advantage.
He left an impressive discography, he recorded Lucia di Lammermoor twice, first with Maria Callas in 1959, and with Beverly Sills in 1970. Other notable recordings include; Rigoletto, opposite Ileana Cotrubas and Plácido Domingo, under Carlo Maria Giulini, Macbeth, opposite Shirley Verrett, and Simon Boccanegra, opposite Mirella Freni and Nicolai Ghiaurov, both under Claudio Abbado. He also recorded Don Carlo, Il trovatore and Aida under Herbert von Karajan
Cappuccilli sang until his mid-sixties; an automobile accident in 1992 ended his stage career. He died in his native Trieste, at the age of 78.
He is survived by his wife, Graziella; three children, Patrizia, Giovanni and Pier Paolo; and two grandchildren, according to the Trieste newspaper.
- Salvatore Allegra
- Romulus (Romolo)
- Gaetano Donizetti
- Lorenzo Perosi
- La resurrezione di Lazzaro (Solista)
- Ildebrando Pizzetti
- La figlia di Iorio (Un Mietitore)
- Giacomo Puccini
- Giuseppe Verdi
- Nabucco (Nabucco)
- Ernani (Don Carlo)
- I due Foscari (Francesco Foscari)
- Attila (Ezio)
- I masnadieri (Francesco Moor)
- Macbeth (Macbeth)
- Luisa Miller (Miller)
- Rigoletto (Conte di Ceprano; Rigoletto)
- Il trovatore (Conte di Luna)
- La traviata (Giorgio Germont)
- Un ballo in maschera (Silvano; Renato)
- La forza del destino (Un chirurgo; Don Carlo di Vargas)
- I vespri siciliani (Guido di Monforte)
- Simon Boccanegra (Boccanegra)
- Don Carlo (Rodrigo di Posa)
- Aida (Amonasro)
- Otello (Jago)
- Falstaff (Ford)
- La Gioconda, con Maria Callas, Fiorenza Cossotto, Pier Miranda Ferraro, Ivo Vinco, dir. Antonino Votto, Columbia/EMI 1959.
- Lucia di Lammermoor, con Maria Callas, Ferruccio Tagliavini, dir. Tullio Serafin, Columbia/EMI 1959.
- Il trovatore (film-TV), con Antonietta Stella, Carlo Bergonzi, Adriana Lazzarini, dir. Arturo Basile, RAI 1966
- La Wally, con Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco, Justino Diaz, dir. Fausto Cleva, Decca 1968.
- Il barbiere di Siviglia, con Margherita Guglielmi, Antonio Cucuccio, Giuseppe Valdengo, Silvano Pagliuca, Supraphon 1969.
- La forza del destino, con Martina Arroyo, Carlo Bergonzi, Ruggero Raimondi, dir. Lamberto Gardelli, EMI 1969.
- Lucia di Lammermoor, con Beverly Sills, Carlo Bergonzi, Justino Diaz, dir. Thomas Schippers, EMI 1970.
- Il pirata, con Montserrat Caballé, Bernabé Martí, Ruggero Raimondi, dir. Gianandrea Gavazzeni, EMI 1970.
- Carmen, con Anna Moffo, Franco Corelli, Helen Donath, dir. Lorin Maazel, Eurodisc/Cetra 1970.
- Andrea Chénier (film-TV), con Franco Corelli, Celestina Casapietra, dir. Bruno Bartoletti, RAI-Milano 1973.
- Simon Boccanegra, con Katia Ricciarelli, Ruggero Raimondi, Plácido Domingo, dir. Gianandrea Gavazzeni, RCA 1973.
- Aida, con Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Fiorenza Cossotto, Nicolai Ghiaurov, dir. Riccardo Muti, EMI 1974.
- Un ballo in maschera, con Martina Arroyo, Plácido Domingo, Fiorenza Cossotto, dir. Riccardo Muti, EMI 1975.
- I masnadieri, con Montserrat Caballé, Carlo Bergonzi, Ruggero Raimondi, dir. Lamberto Gardelli, Philips 1975.
- I puritani, con Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Nicolai Ghiaurov, dir. Richard Bonynge, Decca 1975.
- Macbeth, con Shirley Verrett, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Plácido Domingo, dir. Claudio Abbado, DG 1976.
- Il trovatore, con Franco Bonisolli, Leontyne Price, Elena Obraztsova, Ruggero Raimondi, dir. Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1977.
- I due Foscari, con Josè Carreras, Katia Ricciarelli, Samuel Ramey, dir. Lamberto Gardelli, Philips 1977.
- Cavalleria Rusticana, con Julia Varady, Luciano Pavarotti, dir. Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Decca 1977.
- Simon Boccanegra, con Mirella Freni, Josè Carreras, Nicolai Ghiaurov, dir. Claudio Abbado, DG 1977.
- Don Carlo, con Josè Carrerars, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Agnes Baltsa, dir. Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1978.
- Aida, con Mirella Freni, Josè Carreras, Agnes Baltsa, Ruggero Raimondi, dir. Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1979.
- Rigoletto, con Ileana Cotrubaş, Plácido Domingo, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Elena Obraztsova, dir. Carlo Maria Giulini, DG 1979.
- Nabucco, con Ghena Dimitrova, E. Nesterenko, Plácido Domingo, dir. Giuseppe Sinopoli, DG 1982.
- Beatrice di Tenda, con Mariana Nicolesco, Stefania Troczyska, Vincenzo La Scola, dir. Alberto Zedda, Rizzoli Records 1986.
- Rino Alessi, Piero Cappuccilli: Un baritono da leggenda / The Baritone become a Legend, Comunicarte Edizioni, Trieste 2009.
- Grove Music Online, J.B. Steane, Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Opera News, Obituaries, October 2005.
- Piero Cappuccilli, Baritone
- The Baritone Become a Legend
- cappuccilli on IMDB
- cappuccilli's death news and short biography