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Francesco Merli (Tenor) (Corsico, Milan 1887 – Milan 1976)



He was born in Corsico (Milan) and studied in Milan, with Carlo Negrini and Adelaide Borghi. In 1914, he won second prize at a singing competition in Parma, being edged out of first place by the great Beniamino Gigli. He made his debut at La Scala, Milan, in 1916, as Alvaro in Spontini's Fernand Cortez. Merli would sing widely in Italy and South America during the next decade, and also toured Australia in 1928 with an opera company composed of leading La Scala singers and sponsored by Dame Nellie Melba (who also sang during that tour, in roles such as Mimi in La bohиme, despite being 67 years old). The tour included Merli singing Calaf in the Australian premiere of Puccini's Turandot.  He appeared regularly in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, from 1926 to 1930, where, among other things, he was the first Calaf to be heard in Great Britain. He made his Paris debut at the Palais Garnier in 1935, as Pollione in Norma. His only season at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City occurred in 1932. He made his debut at the Met on March 2 of that year, as Radames in Aida; but his performances there were not deemed a success due to the effects of poor health. Thereafter, La Scala became his operatic base and his career tailed off during World War II. He was renowned for his vocal strength, penetrating tone and incisive diction. These qualities enabled him to tackle a wide operatic repertory, ranging from bel canto works through verismo roles to heroic parts such as Verdi's Otello. Other famous operas that he appeared in included, among others, William Tell, Il pirata, Il trovatore, La forza del destino, Andrea Chйnier, Manon Lescaut and Pagliacci. His portrayal of Otello became world famous, as was his interpretation of Calaf in Turandot. Merli also created the title role in Respighi's Belfagor in 1923.

Chronology of some appearances

1919 Firenze Teatro Verdi Cavalleria Rusticana (Turiddu)
1920 Palermo Teatro Massimo Cavalleria Rusticana (Turiddu)
1921 Carrara  Politeama Verdi Carmen (Don Jose)
1922 Brescia Teatro Grande Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1922 Fabriano Teatro Gentile Carmen (Don Jose)
1922 Piacenza Teatro Municipale Gioconda (Enzo)
1924 Verona  Arena Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1925 Treviso  Teatro Sociale Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1926 Roma Teatro Costanzi Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1926 Roma Teatro Costanzi Gioconda (Enzo)
1926 San Paolo Teatro Municipal Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1926 San Paulo Teatro Municipal Boheme (Rodolfo)
1926 Milano  Teatro alla Scala Boheme (Rodolfo)
1926 Milano  Teatro alla Scala Cavalleria Rusticana (Turiddu)
1927 Milano Teatro alla Scala Boheme (Rodolfo)
1927 Milano Teatro alla Scala Gioconda (Enzo)
1928 Melbourne His Majesty's Carmen (Don Jose)
1930 Milano Teatro La Scala Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1930 Milano  Teatro alla Scala Boheme (Rodolfo)
1931 Milano Teatro alla Scala Boheme (Rodolfo)
1931 Napoli Teatro San Carlo Boheme (Rodolfo)
1933 Padova Teatro Verdi Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1934 Roma  Teatro dell'Opera Boheme (Rodolfo)
1937 Roma  Eiar Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1937 Milano  Teatro La Scala Fanciulla del West (Johnson)
1938 Trieste  Castello di San Giusto Andrea Chenier (Chenier)
1939 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Boheme (Rodolfo)



Aida: O terra addio with Giannina Arangi-Lombardi Columbia D 18019 BX 87
Otello: Ora e per semprer addio Columbia D 12555 B 1323
La Forza del Destino: Invano Alvaro…Le minaccie with Gino Vanelli Columbia D 18063 BX 478/9
Aida: Nel fiero anelito with Giannina Arangi-Lombardi Columbia D 18019 BX 86
Aida: Celeste Aida Columbia D 18048 BX 260
Cavalleria Rusticana: Addio alla madre Columbia D 14685 BX 88
Aida:  La fatal pietra...Morir si pura e bella Columbia D 12535 B 1244
Lohengrin:  Prova maggiore Columbia GQx10227 Bx90 
L'Africana:   O Paradiso Columbia D 14687 BX 91
Cavalleria Rusticana: Viva il vino spumeggiante Columbia 7137-M BX 85
Gioconda: Cielo e mar Columbia D 18048 BX 261
Andrea Chenier:   Si, fui soldato Columbia D 14705 BX 236
Norma:  Meco all'altar di venere Columbia GQ 7197 B 7709/10
I Lombardi: alla prima crociata: Qui posa il fianco..Qual volutta trascorrere with Bianca Scacciati and Nazzareno De Angelis Columbia GQX10521/ GQX10521 Bx1166/67
Ruy Blas: Grazie signor…O dolce volutta Columbia D 18065 BX 482/3
La Forza del Destino: Solenne in quest'ora with Gino Vanelli Columbia D 15259 B 2377
Il Guarany: Sento una forza indomita.. Ma deh che a me with Bianca Scacciati Columbia D 18064 BX 480/1
Andrea Chenier: Improvviso Columbia D 14705 BX 234
Pagliacci Recitar!...Vesti la giubba  Columbia D 12606 B 2397
Pagliacci: No pagliaccio, non son Columbia D 12606 B 2399
Otello: Gia nella notte…Ed io with Claudia Muzio Columbia BQX 2510 BX 1369/70
Otello: Dio ti giocondi with Claudia Muzio Columbia BQX 2511 BX 1371/2
Otello: Dio! mi potevi scagliar Columbia GQX 10776 BX 1412
Otello: Niun mi tema Columbia GQX 10776 BX 1413
Loreley: Vieni! Deh Vien..Deh! ti rammenta with Bianca Scacciati Columbia D 18066 BX 489/90
Giuliano: La dolce madre che mi Columbia D 14703 BX 225
Sly: Io non sono un buffone Columbia D 14704 BX 226
Sly: Un orso in musoliera Columbia D 14704 BX 233
La Forza del Destino: La vita e inferno… O tu che in seno Columbia D 12534 B 1238
La Forza del Destino: Non imprecare umiliati with Bianca Scacciati and Tancredi Pasero Columbia GQX10213 Bx491
La Forza del Destino: Di geloso amor sprezzato with Giannina Arangi-Lombardi and Carlo Galeffi Columbia GQX10188 Bx259-2
Il Trovatore: Miserere with Giannina Arangi-Lombardi Columbia BX121 D18024
Giuliano: Duet I,II with Rosetta Pampanini Columbia GQX10238 /GQX10238, Bx229/Bx230
Aida: Nume costode e vindice with Tancredi Pasero Columbia D18024 BX120
Guglielmo Tell: O muto asil Columbia GQX 7145 B3816




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