Nazzareno De Angelis

Nazzareno De Angelis

Italian opera singer, bass
Date of Birth: 17.11.1881
Country: Italy

Biography of Nazzareno De Angelis

Italian operatic bass Nazzareno De Angelis was known for his exceptional skill in performing roles in operas by Verdi, Rossini, and Wagner. Over the course of his 36-year career, De Angelis performed on stage over 1500 times, with a repertoire of 57 operas. One of his most iconic roles was the powerful portrayal of Mefistofele in Arrigo Boito's eponymous opera, which he sang at least 500 times between 1906 and 1938.

Nazzareno De Angelis

De Angelis was born on November 17, 1881, in L'Aquila, a town in the Abruzzo region of Italy. As a child, he sang in a church choir with his clear boy soprano voice while also receiving education in typography. With his exceptional vocal abilities, De Angelis began singing in the Sistine Chapel choir in the Vatican. As a teenager, he temporarily left the choir while his voice was breaking and started studying vocal technique at the prestigious Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. For several years, both De Angelis and his teachers were uncertain about the final timbre of his voice, and he studied both bass and baritone roles. Eventually, it became clear that while his voice sounded light and free in the upper range, he felt most comfortable in the lower tessitura.

During his last two years at the Academy, De Angelis worked on his repertoire and performed in concerts. His professional operatic debut took place in May 1903 at the L'Aquila Theater, where he played the role of Prefect in Gaetano Donizetti's "Linda di Chamounix." Impressed by his performances, the management of Rome's Teatro Quirino immediately signed a contract with the young singer in July 1903, casting him as Oroveso in Bellini's "Norma." Later that same year, he appeared in two productions at the Teatro Adriano, playing the roles of Il Spettro in Ambroise Thomas's "Hamlet" and Sparafucile in Verdi's "Rigoletto."

In 1905, De Angelis toured in the Netherlands and was subsequently invited to perform in leading opera houses throughout Italy. He made his debut at Milan's La Scala in 1907 and frequently appeared under the baton of the theater's principal conductor, Arturo Toscanini. In 1913, he portrayed Archibaldo in Italo Montemezzi's "L'amore dei tre re" at La Scala. In 1909, he performed the role of the High Priest in Gaspare Spontini's "La vestale" at the Paris Opéra.

Except for several appearances at the Lyric Opera in Chicago from 1910-1911 and 1915-1920, De Angelis primarily performed in Europe. However, he also appeared at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, starting in 1911. Beyond his main repertoire, the singer captivated audiences with his performances as Creon in "Médée" and Moses in "Mosè in Egitto."

In the 1930s, De Angelis's vocal abilities began to show signs of aging, with a slight roughness in his sound. He officially retired from his operatic career in 1939. Although he gave a few concerts during the 1940s, De Angelis focused on teaching voice in Milan and Rome. He passed away on December 14, 1962, in Rome at the age of 81.

De Angelis possessed one of the most colossal Italian bass voices, although critics did not consider him a subtle stylist or a great interpreter. His voice was low and incredibly powerful, with strong upper notes. His first recordings on Fonotipia Records date back to 1907-1908, and his last recordings were made in the late 1920s and early 1930s on Columbia Records. In 1931, De Angelis recorded his famous Mefistofele, which became the only opera role he recorded from beginning to end.