In May 2014 Giuseppe Valdengo would have turned 100 years old. A fact that has escaped everyone, because the baritone born in Turin is now almost completely forgotten. How sad! And then to think that he was one of the beloved singers of Arturo Toscanini! He can still be admired on live radio recordings of Aida, Otello and Falstaff, led by the great maestro.
Opera News wrote about Valdengo: “Although his timbre lacked the innate beauty of some of his baritone contemporaries, Valdengo’s performances were invariably satisfying – bold and assured in attack but scrupulously musical”. How true!
Below is a tribute to the baritone, made on the occasion of his hundredth birthday:
I knew him from his performance in the film Great Caruso with Mario Lanza, but he really impressed me with his role of Alfio in the RAI filmed Cavalleria rusticana, with the inimitable Carla Gavazzi as Santuzza.
Alfio is missing on the 1949 CD recorded for London, but his Tonio from Pagliacci, a role with which he celebrated unprecedented triumphs, is included. Furthermore, two very moving arias from Rigoletto, plus the Italian sung Hamlet and Valentin (Faust), sound very touching.
Most of his recital, however, is taken up by Italian songs by Tosti, Brogi, Denza and Leoncavallo. Repertoire that fits him like a glove.
Your write-up begs a question: What makes some singers legend, and why some are forgotten. Valdengo, as mentioned by you, one of the beloved singers of Toscanini himself, had all it takes, to be remembered. What makes singers legends?
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It is a very question and there is answer…