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Greatest Opera Singers
Friday, December 13, 2013
Antonio Cortis (Tenor) (Altea, Spain 1891- Denia, Spain 1952)
Cortis was born at sea but his birthplace is often given asValencia, in which city he spent his infancy. (His name was originally Antonio Monton Corts but he changed it for theatrical purposes.) He studied music at the Royal Conservatory inMadridand sang in a children's choir. In 1909, he and his widowed mother moved fromMadridtoBarcelona, where he attended the local conservatory.
He made his stage debut in 1912 at theLiceoin Barcelona as acomprimariosinger, but he gradually worked his way up to major roles at a variety of opera houses in Spainand South America, including theTeatro ColóninBuenos Aires. On the South American tour of 1917, the young tenor was befriended by theMetropolitan OperastarEnrico Caruso, who encouraged him to pursue his singing career inNew York City. Cortis declined Caruso's offer of help due to personal reasons but he would henceforth model his singing technique on Caruso's great example.
His international career began in earnest with successful appearances inNaplesand, more importantly, atRome'sTeatro Costanziin 1920, where he signed a three-year contract. He proceeded to sing inStockholm,Milan,Latin AmericaandBerlinand, most famously, with the esteemed company at theChicago Civic Operafrom 1924 to 1932. His debut at theRoyal Opera House,Covent Garden, occurred in 1931, as Calaf in Puccini'sTurandot. He appeared often on the Italian opera-house circuit during the early 1930s but success atMilan'sLa Scala, with its entrenched roster of popular Italian-born tenors, eluded him.
Cortis came to be regarded as one of the best inter-war interpreters ofverismo opera. He was particularly praised for his performances of Calaf and of Dick Johnson in Puccini'sLa fanciulla del West, while he sang with remarkable ease the strenuous music composed for the tenor voice byUmberto GiordanoandPietro Mascagni. Cortis also undertook Verdi roles, such as the Duke inRigoletto, which he delivered with impressive skill and style.
He chose to spend the final phase of his career inSpainas theGreat Depressiondeeply affected the economies ofAmericaand other parts of the world. Although his voice was still in good condition, he withdrew from the operatic stage in the mid-1930s. His decision to retire was influenced by the onset of theSpanish Civil War. He composed some vocal works during this period and founded a school for singers inValenciain 1940. After World War II, he came out of retirement to appear occasionally in Spanish operas and other works. His health deteriorated in the early 1950s and he died at the age of 60 inValencia
Chronology of some appearances
1920 Rome Teatro Costanzi Canio (Leoncavallo)
1924-1932 Chicago Civic Opera House
1927 Chicago Civic Opera House Loreley (Walter)
1931 LondonCovent GardenTurandot (Calaf)
RECORDINGS FOR SALE
Gramophone, Barcelona 1918-09
El Dormiro Azul (Arrieta): Jota 2-62226, AA69
La Alegria del Batallon (Serrano): Cancion del Soledad 2-62225, AA69
Parlophon, Berlin 1923-10-04
Ballo in maschera (Verdi): Forse la soglia P1596 6464
Ballo in maschera (Verdi): Ma se m'e forza perderti P1596 6465
Amico Fritz (Mascagni): O amore, o bella luce delcore P1597 6467
Parlophon, Berlin 1923-10-05
Fanciulla del West (Puccini): Or son sei mesi P1579 6469