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Rolando Panerai (born October 17, 1924) is an Italian baritone, particularly associated with the Italian repertory. He was born in Campi Bisenzio, near Florence, Italy and studied with Frazzi in Florence and Armani and Giulia Tess in Milan. Panerai made his stage debut in 1947 in Naples at the Teatro di San Carlo as the pharaon in Rossini's Mosè in Egitto. Other debuts, both in 1951, were as Simon Boccanegra in Simon Boccanegra in Bergamo and as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at La Scala in Milan. He sang in many rarely performed Verdi operas on radio broadcast for RAI in 1951 (to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Verdi's death), such as Giovanna d'Arco, La battaglia di Legnano, and Aroldo. Later roles included most of the great Verdi baritone roles, particularly the title character in Rigoletto, The Count of Luna in Il trovatore, Giorgio Germont in La traviata, Marquis of Posa in Don Carlos, Amonasro in Aida.
Panerai has more than 150 operas in his repertory, although he is best known for comic roles: Ford in Falstaff (his signature role), Gianni Schicchi, Figaro in Nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and both Guglielmo and Alfonso in Così fan tutte; also, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, both Belcore and Dulcamara in Elisir d'amore, and Malatesta and the title role in Don Pasquale. He was one an expontent of Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini for many years, singing the role in Genova as recently as 2011, at the age of 87. He has sung at the Paris Opera, in the Staatsoper, Frankfurt and at the Glyndebourne Festival.
Panerai often partnered with Maria Callas and Giuseppe di Stefano, as in: Il Trovatore, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci and La bohème. He also recorded a notable Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, opposite Renata Scotto and Carlo Bergonzi, and Germont La Traviata, opposite Beverly Sills and Nicolai Gedda. He plays Ford in four different recordings of Verdi's Falstaff, opposite such interpreters of the title role as Tito Gobbi, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Giuseppe Taddei (the latter on video, under Herbert von Karajan). He also recorded the title role. He can be seen on video as Ford, Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto in "Rigoletto" Silvio in "Pagliacci", and in Concert in A Bolshoi Opera Night (DVD). He is active as a teacher in masterclasses and has directed titles like Il Campanello dello Speziale, Gianni Schicchi, La Traviata, La Bohème and in 2013 Rigoletto and Il Trovatore.
- Alain Pâris, Dictionnaire des interprètes et de l'interpretation musicale au XX siècle (2 vols), Ed. Robert Laffont (Bouquins, Paris 1982, 4th Edn. 1995, 5th Edn 2004). ISBN 2-221-06660-X
- D. Hamilton (ed.),The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the World of Opera (Simon and Schuster, New York 1987). ISBN 0-671-61732-X
- Roland Mancini and Jean-Jacques Rouveroux, (orig. H. Rosenthal and J. Warrack, French edition), Guide de l’opéra, Les indispensables de la musique (Fayard, 1995). ISBN 2-213-59567-4
- Rolando Panerai, simpatia e comunicativo, Elio Trovato, Ed. Azzali, 2009