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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 28 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Maria Callas Live Remastered Recordings 1949-1964 / Various
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563467 Release Date: 09/15/2017   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Wagner,  Gioachino Rossini,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Amalia Pini,  Maria Callas,  Gino Bechi,  Gino Sinimberghi  ... 
    Conductor:  Vittorio Gui,  Erich Kleiber,  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  Italian Radio Chorus Rome  ... 
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 2.
    Verdi: Macbeth / Sabata, Callas, Teatro alla Scala
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563920 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Attilio Barbesi,  Dario Caselli,  Luciano della Pergola,  Angela Vercelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Victor de Sabata
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
    CD: $13.99
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  • 3.
    Best Wishes from Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101790 Release Date: 09/01/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Daniel Harper,  Sandra Pacetti,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Stephen Dickson  ... 
    Conductor:  Tiziano Severini,  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Opera Orchestra,  San Francisco Opera Chorus,  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano  ... 
    On sale! $41.99
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  • 4.
    Best Wishes from Luciano Pavarotti [Blu-ray]
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101791 Release Date: 09/01/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Mirella Freni,  Mark Coles,  Gino Quilico  ... 
    Conductor:  Tiziano Severini,  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Opera Orchestra,  San Francisco Opera Chorus,  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano  ... 
    On sale! $41.99
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 5.
    Insolita / Tebaldi, Various
    Label: Hardy Classics   Catalog: 6021 Release Date: 07/28/2017   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Wagner,  Gioachino Rossini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Rolando Panerai,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Renata Tebaldi,  Giulio Scarenci  ... 
    Conductor:  Alfredo Simonetto,  Karl Böhm,  Antonino Votto,  Guido Cantelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan RAI Orchestra,  Milan RAI Chorus,  Naples Teatro San Carlo Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $39.95
    CD: $36.99
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  • 6.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni / Taddei, Maghini, Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 121294 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Maria Curtis-Verna,  Italo Tajo,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Elda Ribetti  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Rudolf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Turin,  Italian Radio Chorus Turin
    CD: $39.99
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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    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
    CD: $9.99
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  • 9.
    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
    CD: $21.99
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  • 10.
    Puccini: Tosca - Scenes & Arias / Rescigno, Freni, Pavarotti, Milnes, Tajo
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421888 Release Date: 04/02/2010   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
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 11.
    Giordano: Andrea Chenier / De Fabritiis, Gigli, Caniglia
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69996 Release Date: 08/05/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Umberto Giordano
    Performer:  Maria Huder,  Giulietta Simionato,  Vittoria Palombini,  Italo Tajo  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliviero de Fabritiis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
    On sale! $29.98
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  • 12.
    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  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 13.
    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: $43.99
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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  ... 
    ArkivCD $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.
    Puccini: Tosca / Sinopoli, Behrens, Domingo, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000710109 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Cornell MacNeil,  Placido Domingo,  Hildegard Behrens,  James Courtney  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 17.
    Puccini: La Bohème / Pavarotti, Scotto, Levine, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000448409 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Ingvar Wixell,  Renata Scotto,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Maralin Niska  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 18.
    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
    On sale! $29.98
    CD: $26.99
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  • 19.
    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
    DVD: $38.99
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  • 20.
    Spontini: Fernando Cortez / Santini, Tebaldi, Penno, Et Al
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6441 Release Date: 11/05/2004   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
    CD: $28.99
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  • 21.
    Famous Basses Of The Past Vol 2
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89943 Release Date: 12/30/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Peter Cornelius,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Italo Tajo,  Gottlob Frick,  Cesare Siepi,  Raphäel Arié  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 22.
    Puccini: Gianni Schicchi / Strauss: Salome - 1949 Metropolitan Opera Double Bill
    Label: Guild   Catalog: GHCD2230/1 Release Date: 01/01/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Cloe Elmo,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Italo Tajo,  Licia Albanese  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Antonicelli,  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Import CD: $14.99
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  • 23.
    Verdi: Falstaff, Etc / De Sabata, Serafin,Stabile, Et Al
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1104 Release Date: 08/27/2002   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Piero Biasini,  Maria Caniglia,  Francesco Merli,  Beniamino Gigli  ... 
    Conductor:  Victor De Sabata,  Tullio Serafin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Florence Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 24.
    Pavarotti's Opera Made Easy - My Favorite Puccini
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 443819 Release Date: 08/23/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Renata Tebaldi,  Pilar Lorengar,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Giuseppe Patané  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $9.95
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  • 25.
    Puccini: Tosca -highlights / Tilson Thomas, Marton, Carreras
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 53550 Release Date: 06/14/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Italo Tajo,  Juan Pons,  Joszef Németh,  Eva Martón  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian State Orchestra,  Hungarian State R/TV Chorus
    CD: $14.99
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