pars media // films // Belcanto - The Tenors of the 78 Era // 7 Schipa (1889-1965)

scene: A gathering of Tito Schipa’s colleagues in the Café Tortoni in Buenos Aires. As a Southern Italian, Schipa had a particular affinity to spanish culture and music and considered the Teatro Colon as his second home.

music: Puccini, Padilla, Flotow, Tosti, Massenet, Donizetti, Tangos

analysis: Ah! Non mi ridestar (Werther, Massenet), 1925

He had a way of phrasing and a fabulous diction. He sang like an open book. You could understand everything. (Pasini) His voice is like a ray of sunshine penetrating the mist. As the sun rises, the rays shine through more strongly. (Kesting)

Schipa's small voice was big enough to fill an auditorium like the Teatro Colon, which seats 3,500 to 4,000 people. Even his pianissimi were a gentle whisper which reached the whole theatre. (Turro) For him, singing was a form of conversation. He said the music. (Zucker) The note floats away. It is like breathing out but almost without losing any air. The singer makes a fiato - draws breath only for an instant. The amount of air does not matter. He has to convert all the air he has breathed in into sound. (Kesting) As a young man he had been very good-looking. I think he was the best-looking of all the tenors. The ladies of course worshipped him. They all flocked to him. (Brodsky) So great was his magic that he was able to get away with shortcomings that would have ruined any other tenor. The problem for us, those who studied with him, was that we began to develop his vocal shortcomings but did not have his magic to compensate. You felt it. You could come into the room and not see him but sense, there was Schipa over there behind the door. It was amazing. The presence was that palpable. (Zucker)

Everybody went to hear his "Una furtiva lagrima". The scene in which he is about to drink the love-potion is one of incredible unpretentiousness. As Nemorino, he was such an innocent, simple farmer that he brought him to life. It was simply something very special. (Sala)