Italo Tajo

Biography

Born: April 25, 1915; Pinerolo   Died: March 28, 1993; Cincinnati, OH  
Although his handsome bass voice lacked the weight often expected in a low-ranged singer, Italo Tajo made a successful career based on his excellent grasp of style and character. Particularly adept in Mozart, Tajo performed a wide range of bass characters and showed an affinity for comic roles. Tajo eventually took up a position on the opera faculty at Cincinnati, but in his sixties he returned to the Chicago and Metropolitan Opera stages to Read more perform such roles as Alcindoro/Benoit (La Bohème), Don Pasquale, and the Sacristan (Tosca).

Tajo's first name derived from the fact that, of five children, he was the only one to have been born in his native Italy. He sang in a church choir in Pinerolo when a mere boy; the director's suggestion that Tajo study seriously was met with opposition from his father, who envisioned for him a career as a doctor. When Tajo's enthusiasm for music persisted, his father surrendered and gave his approval, clearing the way for Italo to study with Nilde Stinche-Bertozzi in nearby Turin. When he was 20, Tajo made his debut at the Teatro Regio in Turin singing Fafner (Das Rheingold) under the direction of Fritz Busch. Busch was sufficiently impressed to invite Tajo to the Glyndebourne Festival that same year to serve as an understudy and chorus member. When English bass Norman Allin was unavailable for the first-ever recording of Le nozze di Figaro, Tajo was called upon to sing Don Bartolo's La vendetta, an astonishing responsibility for so youthful a singer. His success led to his being engaged for the 1936 Edinburgh Festival.

During WWII, Tajo discharged his military duty as a grenadier guard in Rome, an assignment that afforded him time for the study of new roles and for performances at the Rome Opera. Among several important roles undertaken during that time was the Doctor in the first Italian performance of Wozzeck. Following the war's end, he sang at La Scala in L'amore dei Tre Re, Boris Godunov, Boito's Mefistofele, Gounod's Faust, Don Pasquale, L'Elisir d'amore, and Der Rosenkavalier. In Italy, he also appeared in several rarely performed works by Giordano, Wolf-Ferrari, and Pizzetti, as well as premiering works by Nono, Berio, and Malipiero.

Meanwhile, his American debut had taken place with the Chicago Opera when he sang Ramfis in a 1946 performance of Aida (he had also recorded the King with Serafin that same year in Rome). His Chicago Ramfis was described by the Tribune as "a high priest head and shoulders higher than his minions, with a voice rich in quality and full of operatic promise." Tajo's San Francisco debut came in 1948 when his Basilio and Leporello faced recollections of Baccaloni and still triumphed. Later that season, on December 28, Tajo made his Metropolitan Opera debut, winning strong approval for his Basilio and, a few days later, for his portrayal of Mozart's Figaro. As time passed, however, critics viewed with diminishing favor his overactive stage persona and a tendency to growl the music "from the side of his mouth" rather than focusing the voice in a conventional manner. Tajo's late performances in character roles were nonetheless ripely amusing and unfailingly memorable. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 49 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22308 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Caterina Mancini,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Gino Penno,  Lina Pagliughi  ... 
    Conductor:  Fernando Previtali,  Angelo Questa,  Mario Rossi,  Max Rudolf
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  • 2.
    Callas, Verdi: Four Legendary Live Performances
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 799202 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Rosita Rodriguez,  Maria Callas,  Ignacio Ruffino,  Roberto Silva  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Victor De Sabata,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Orchestra,  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Chorus,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 3.
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5022 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Anselmo Colzani,  Italo Tajo,  Vittoria Calma,  Ettore Bastianini  ... 
    Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
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  • 4.
    Puccini: Tosca / Rescigno, Freni, Pavarotti, Milnes, National Philharmonic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001615202 Release Date: 11/21/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Sherrill Milnes,  Richard Van Allan  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicola Rescigno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Opera Chorus,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
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  • 5.
    James Levine - Celebrating 40 Years At The Met  [21 DVD Box Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1135701355 Release Date: 12/07/2010   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  John Corigliano,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Franz Mazura,  Julia Migenes,  Evelyn Lear,  Kenneth Riegel  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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    DVD: $299.99
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  • 6.
    Puccini: Tosca - Scenes & Arias / Rescigno, Freni, Pavarotti, Milnes, Tajo
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421888 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Michel Sénéchal,  Luciano Pavarotti,  John Tomlinson  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicola Rescigno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Opera Chorus
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  • 7.
    Verdi: Aida / Beniamino Gigli, Maria Caniglia, Ebe Stignani, Lia Serafini
    Label: Bel Canto Society   Catalog: 54 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Beniamino Gigli,  Gino Bechi,  Maria Caniglia,  Ebe Stignani  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
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  • 8.
    Puccini - The Definitive Collection / Pavarotti, Freni, Sutherland, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001181302 Release Date: 11/11/2008   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dwayne Croft,  Ramón Vargas,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Nicola Rescigno,  Herbert von Karajan,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $107.49
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  • 9.
    Puccini 150: Musik Fur Die Ewigkeit
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 736303 Release Date: 10/21/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Peter Dvorsky,  Marco Berti,  Nina Rautio,  Renata Scotto  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Carlo Rizzi,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
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  • 10.
    Puccini: Manon Lescaut (Complete)
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460750 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Italo Tajo,  Paolo Coni,  José Carreras,  William Matteuzzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Nessun Dorma - Puccini's Greatest Arias / Pavarotti, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001109602 Release Date: 06/10/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Richard Van Allan,  Mirella Freni,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicola Rescigno,  Zubin Mehta,  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 12.
    Pavarotti - The Italian Opera Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001086409 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giacomo Puccini,  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Juan Pons,  Teresa Stratas,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    DVD: $39.99
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  • 13.
    The Essential Jose Carreras
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 721441 Release Date: 01/29/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Agnes Baltsa,  José Carreras,  Italo Tajo,  Helmut Wildhaber  ... 
    Conductor:  Placido Domingo,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Lorin Maazel,  Oleg Caetani  ... 
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  • 14.
    The Essential Jose Carreras
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 721358 Release Date: 01/15/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Rodgers,  José Feliciano,  Richard Strauss,  N. Alvarez Solar-Quintes  ... 
    Performer:  Sarah Kingley,  Juliet Midgley,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  José Carreras  ... 
    Conductor:  Jonathan Tunick,  Steven Mercurio,  Joan Casas,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Gumpoldskirch Boys Choir,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 15.
    Berg: Wozzeck, Etc / Sanzogno, Gobi, Picchi, Cuenod, Et Al
    Label: Myto Records   Catalog: 71122 Release Date: 06/26/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Carlo Badioli,  Petre Munteanu,  Hugues Cuénod,  Mirto Picchi  ... 
    Conductor:  Nino Sanzogno,  Dimitri Mitropoulos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Chorus Rome,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  NBC Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 16.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni, Etc / Rudolf, Taddei, Tajo, Valletti
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 308 Release Date: 11/28/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Antonio Zerbini,  Cesare Valletti,  Maria Curtis-Verna,  Italo Tajo  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Rudolf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Chorus Turin,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Turin
    On sale! $33.98
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  • 17.
    Puccini: Tosca / Behrens, Domingo, Sinopoli, MET
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000710109 Release Date: 09/12/2006  
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Cornell MacNeil,  Placido Domingo,  Hildegard Behrens,  James Courtney  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 18.
    Donizetti: Don Pasquale / Tajo, Valletti, Noni, Bruscantini
    Label: Bel Canto Society   Catalog: 686 Release Date: 04/18/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Alda Noni,  Italo Tajo,  Cesare Valletti,  Sesto Bruscantini
    Conductor:  Alberto Erede
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  • 19.
    Donizetti: L'elisir D'amore / Gobbi, Sinimberghi, Corradi
    Label: Bel Canto Society   Catalog: 684 Release Date: 11/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Nelly Corradi,  Italo Tajo,  Tito Gobbi,  Gino Sinimberghi
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Morelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  Rome Opera House Chorus
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  • 20.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Italo Tajo
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89621 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Italo Tajo,  Leonard Warren
    Conductor:  Jean Paul Morel,  Renato Cellini,  Fernando Previtali,  Mario Rossi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Orchestra,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 21.
    Puccini: La Bohème / Pavarotti, Scotto, Levine, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000448409 Release Date: 10/11/2005  
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Ingvar Wixell,  Renata Scotto,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Maralin Niska  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 22.
    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Tebaldi, Simionato, Noni, Et Al
    Label: Hardy Classics   Catalog: 6017 Release Date: 05/17/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Giulietta Simionato,  Scipio Colombo,  Italo Tajo  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Naples Teatro San Carlo Orchestra,  Naples Teatro San Carlo Chorus
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  • 23.
    Donizetti: Don Pasquale / Erede, Tajo, Bruscantini, Noni
    Label: Hardy Classics   Catalog: 4017 Release Date: 04/05/2005  
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Cesare Valletti,  Renato Ercolani,  Sesto Bruscantini,  Alda Noni  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Erede
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  • 24.
    Spontini: Fernando Cortez / Santini, Tebaldi, Penno, Et Al
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6441/2 Release Date: 11/30/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gasparo Spontini
    Performer:  Gino Penno,  Renata Tebaldi,  Italo Tajo,  Aldo Protti  ... 
    Conductor:  Gabriele Santini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Naples Teatro San Carlo Orchestra,  Naples Teatro San Carlo Chorus
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  • 25.
    Puccini: Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Turandot/Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000334802 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Elizabeth Harwood,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Gianni Maffeo,  Rolando Panerai  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Nicola Rescigno,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Schöneberg Boys Choir  ... 
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