Ezio Pinza and his magnificent rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening”

If you liked the movie “South Pacific” you’re probably going to love this recording of Ezio Pinza. (

Operatic success[edit]

Pinza’s Metropolitan Opera debut occurred in November 1926 in Spontini’s La vestale, with famed American soprano Rosa Ponselle in the title role. In 1929, he sang Don Giovanni, a role with which he was subsequently to become closely identified. He subsequently added the Mozart roles Figaro (in 1940) and Sarastro (in 1942) to his repertoire, a vast number of Italian operatic roles of BelliniDonizetti, and Verdi, and Mussorgsky‘s Boris Godunov (sung in Italian). Apart from the Met, Pinza appeared at the Royal Opera HouseCovent Garden, in 1930–1939, and was invited to sing at the Salzburg Festival in 1934-1937 by the celebrated German conductor Bruno Walter.

Pinza sang once again under the baton of Toscanini in 1935, this time with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, as the bass soloist in performances of Beethoven‘s Missa Solemnis. One of these performances was broadcast by CBS and preserved on transcription discs; this recording has been issued on LP and CD. He also sang in Toscanini’s February 6, 1938, NBC Symphony Orchestra‘s broadcast performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.[3] These performances both took place in Carnegie Hall. In October 1947, he performed the role of Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust opposite his daughter, soprano Claudia Pinza Bozzolla, as Marguerite at the San Francisco Opera.[4]

Pinza resigned from the Metropolitan Opera in 1948. He had sung opposite many celebrated singers at the Met during his heyday, including, among others, such international stars as Amelita Galli-CurciRosa PonselleElisabeth RethbergMaria JeritzaGiovanni MartinelliBeniamino GigliLawrence Tibbett, and Giuseppe De Luca. The Metropolitan Opera honored Pinza by dedicating all the water fountains at the new Metropolitan Opera House (Lincoln Center) to him.[5] Before his retirement from opera, his repertoire consisted of around 95 roles.

Arrest and detention by FBI[edit]

In March 1942, the FBI arrested Pinza at his New York home and unjustly detained him for nearly three months on Ellis Island with hundreds of other Italian-Americans who were suspected of supporting the Axis.[6] Norman Cordon, a fellow basso at the Metropolitan Opera who was considered one of Pinza’s rivals, boasted that he had informed the FBI that Pinza was a fascist sympathizer. At the time of his arrest and detention, Pinza was just four months away from obtaining US citizenship. The incident was extremely traumatic for Pinza, and he suffered from periods of severe depression for years afterward.[7] Even so, shortly after Pinza’s release, the two bassos performed together in an ongoing Met production of Don Giovanni, with Pinza in the title role and Cordon as the Commendatore.[8]

I hope you enjoyed the recording. Watch for more posts of great musical interpretations.

My website: http://www.godwinbooks.com

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