Born: January 28, 1931; New York, NY
Died: March 19, 2009; Palm Bay, FL
Ezio Flagello was a colorful and popular American bass from the mid-'50s to 1987, the year of his retirement. His fame owed much, of course, to his many successful performances on the world's operatic stages, but he also appeared on several popular television shows and in the 1974 Academy Award-winning film The Godfather Part II playing the Impresario. Flagello sang with the Metropolitan Opera for 27 years and was a favorite with audiences there.Read more His range of repertory was uncommonly broad, taking in disparate roles in the works of Mozart (Leporello), Bellini (Rodolfo), Verdi (Sparafucile) , Wagner (Pogner), Puccini (the Jailer), Barber (Enobarbus), and many others. He made numerous recordings, of which a good many are still widely available from labels that include Decca, Citadel, Myto, and Gala. Among his most highly praised recordings are of La Sonnambula and Don Giovanni.
Flagello was born in New York City on January 28, 1931. His older brother was famed composer Nicolas Flagello. Ezio followed his brother's lead in choosing to study music at the Manhattan School of Music. His most important voice teachers there were John Brownlee and Friedrich Schorr.
Flagello's biographies will state that his official debut was at the 1955 Empire State Festival, where he sang Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore. True enough, but a more important debut took place the previous year when he appeared on the television show Ed Sullivan's The Toast of the Town (June 6) with other notables that included Victor Borge.
Flagello debuted at the Met in 1957 as the Jailer in Puccini's Tosca. He appeared in numerous important roles at the Met over the years (528 performances), singing for the last time there on December 17, 1984, in Rossini's The Barber of Seville as Dr. Bartolo. He also appeared on many of the Met radio broadcasts during this period.
Because of Flagello's portly appearance and good-natured personality, he was not only a good fit physically -- not to mention vocally -- for many buffo roles in opera, but a colorful character for potential crossover audiences, like that of the Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson, on which he appeared on March 29, 1971.
Among Flagello's last appearances in concert was the 1987 Rossini Stabat Mater, presented in Jacksonville, FL. His more memorable recordings include the song cycle The Land, a work written by his brother and conducted by him, available on Citadel Records. Read less
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