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Benvenuto Franci (Baritone) (Pienza 1891 – Roma 1985)




As a youngster, he was fascinated by the musical instruments of the town band: large and small instruments, woodwinds and brass - he played them all but preferred the euphonium. He studied the viola and performed in a trio with the band-master on the violin and the town barber on the cello.  As he grew up, people noticed that he not only had great talent with musical instruments but that he also sang with an easy and sonorous voice.
In 1910 his parents decided to send him to study voice in Rome at the Academy of Santa Cecilia where he attended the famous school of the great Maestro Antonio Cotogni.  Fellow students, Beniamino Gigli and Giacomo Lauri Volpi, shared with him all their anxieties, hopes and fears.
In 1917, he brazenly requested an audition with Emma Carelli, who was then running the Teatro Costanzi. After hearing the baritone, Carelli said: "A beautiful voice, a great voice. I would like to discipline and release it. This season the new opera Lodoletta by Mascagni will be performed. I will prepare you myself and will put you on the stage.”
The day after Christmas of 1917 he debuted in Rome to great acclaim. This success at the Costanzi immediately earned him a contract with the San Carlo in Naples, where, working with Maestro Franco Capuana, he expanded his repertoire: Un Ballo in Maschera, Aida, Rigoletto, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Gioconda, Andrea Chenier, Cavalleria, Pagliacci, La Boheme, La  Traviata, Don Pasquale, all operas that he would continue to sing throughout his career.
His great success opened the doors to La Scala. Toscanini wanted him for Aida, Tristan, Carmen, Traviata, affirming his faith and esteem for Franci over a ten year period. He premiered a number of important works: Boito’s posthumous work Nerone,  Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini and I Cavalieri di Ekebu, directed by the composer himself, Umberto Giordano's La Cena delle beffe, Il piccolo Marat  by Mascagni, and  Marinuzzi's Palla de Mozzi, directed by the composer.
For twenty years he sang in the most important Italian and foreign theatres, all the while expanding his repertoire: I Puritani, Tosca, La Fanciulla del West, Guglielmo Tell, Gianni Schicchi, La forza del destino, Fidelio, Otello, Nabucco, Die Meistersinger, and Lohengrin (Franci is one of the few Italian singers to embrace the Wagnerian repertoire). In Bologna, on the occasion of the premiere of Il Tabarro, he met Puccini who advised him to study Gianni Schicchi, a role he subsequently performed many times. The list of theatres in which Benvenuto Franci performed is long and glorious including, among many, Rome, Naples and Milan, Bologna, Genoa, Verona, Torino, Parma, Palermo, Trieste, Florence, etc.
Abroad, he was regularly invited to perform at Covent Garden in London, at the Paris Opera, in Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Berlin, and Lisbon.
In the summer of 1924 he set sail for South America with the Company of Ottavio Scotto and Claudia Muzio, and the director Marinuzzi. The sixteen performances he was scheduled to sing became forty.  He returned regularly to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina for ten years.
In 1956, he retired from the stage where he had performed for forty years. "At the end of the opera, Toscanini called me into his dressing room, hugged me and spoke to me in a way that filled me with emotion and joy. Never will I forget that hug – I consider it the ultimate prize of my career.”
(Benvenuto Franci)

Chronology of some appearances

1919  Teramo  Teatro Comunale Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1919 Pesaro  Teatro Rossini Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1919 Napoli  Teatro San Carlo Ballo in maschera (Renato)
1920 Lisbona Coliseo Recrejos Barbiere di Siviglia (Figaro)
1921 Genova  Polietama Genovese Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1922 San Severino Marche Teatro Feronia Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1922 Milano Teatro Dal Verme Ballo in maschera (Renato)
1923 Rimini Teatro Vittorio Emanuele Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1924 Milano Teatro La Scala Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1924 Verona Arena Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1925 London Covent Garden Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1925 Livorno  Politeama Barbiere di Siviglia (Figaro)
1926 Rio de Janeiro Teatro Lirico Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1926 Milano Teatro La Scala Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1927 Buenos Aires  Teatro Colon Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1927 Rio de Janeiro Teatro Municipal Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1927 San Paolo Teatro Municipal Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1928 Buenos Aires  Teatro Colon Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1928 Cremona Teatro Ponchielli Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1929 Roma Teatro dell'Opera Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1930 Ravenna Teatro Alighieri Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1931 Roma Teatro dell'Opera Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1931 Roma Teatro dell'Opera Ballo in maschera (Renato)
1931 Napoli Teatro San Carlo Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1931 Napoli Teatro San Carlo Ballo in maschera (Renato)
1932 Cento Teatro Comunale Borgatti Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1932 Verona Arena Ballo in maschera (Renato)
1934 Genova Teatro Carlo Felice Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1934 Verona Arena Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1935 Venezia  Teatro La Fenice Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1937 Roma  Eiar Andrea Chenier (Gerard)
1938 Noto Teatro del Littoriale Ballo in maschera (Renato)
1939 Genova Aperto della Foce Ballo in maschera (Renato)




La Traviata: Di provenza il mare il suol Phonotype C2320
La Gioconda: Enzo Grimaldo...O grido di quest'anima with Fernando De Lucia Phonotype C2340 C2341
La Favorita: Vien Leonora Phonotype
Don Pasquale: Bella siccome un angelo  Phonotype


Rigoletto: Si vendetta with Ena  Surinach Columbia D5108 B279
Dinorah: Sei vendicata assai Columbia 481
Carmen: Con voi ber! With Aurora Buades, Ebe Ticozzi, Irma Mion and Bruno Carmassi Columbia DX8055 WBX1220-2
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Dunque io son, pt 1 pt 2 with Bianca Gherardi Columbia LB9 LB9 WB4605-1 WB4606-1
Un Ballo in Maschera: Alla vita Columbia RQ 12633  WB3861
Andrea Chenier: Un dê m'era di gioia Columbia D1521 B273
Andrea Chenier: Son sessant'anni Columbia D1521 B259
Aida: Quest'assisa Columbia RQ 12633 WB3868


Il Trovatore: Per me ora fatale with Guglielmo Masini Gramophone DB1262 CF2539-2
Tosca: Va, Tosca Gramophone DB1508 CF2519-1T1
Otello: Sê, pel ciel with Aureliano  Pertile Gramophone DB1402 CF2471-1
Otello: Credo Gramophone DB1154 CF1527-1
Il Trovatore: Mira d’acerbe lagrime with Maria Luisa Fanelli Gramophone DB1509 CM 970-2
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: All’idea di quel metallo...Dunque all’opra with Bruno Landi Gramophone DB1433 DB1433 CM 1540 CM1542
Guillaume Tell: Resta immobile Gramophone DB1393 CM1283-1
Guillaume Tell: Ah, Mathilde with Aureliano Pertile Gramophone DB1480 CF3677-1
La Gioconda: O monumento! Gramophone DB1117 CF2502-2,2A
La Forza del Destino: Urna fatale  Gramophone DB1262 CF2482-1T1
La Forza del Destino: Invano, Alvaro...Le minaccie with Aureliano Pertile Gramophone DB1219  DB1219 CF2534-2 CF2535-2
La Favorita: In questo suol with Gianna Pederzini  Gramophone DB1748
Ernani: O sommo Carlo with Jose Palet and d'Urbino-Poloni Gramophone DB1138 CD4920-2
Ernani: Gran Dio... O dei verd'anni miei Gramophone DB1138 CD4797-2
Un Ballo in Maschera: Eri tu Gramophone  DB 1320 CM 994-1
Un Ballo in Maschera: Alla vita Gramophone DA1093 BM1291-1
Aida: Quest'assisa with Guglielmo Masini, Luisa Lucini and Vittorio Lois Gramophone DB1320 CM993-1
L'Africana: Averla tanto amata Gramophone DB1393 CM1284-1
L'Africana: Adamastor, re dell’acque Gramophone DB 1509 CM 1332




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