Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1872-1883 - Drury Lane (Covent Garden)

Operatic tenor Italo Campanini was born on 30 June 1845 in Parma. As a young man, he served in Garibaldi’s army and it was at the military base, singing the patriotic songs of New Italy, that he first learned the power of his voice. He studied at the Parma Conservatory and subsequently with Francesco Lamperti in Milan. He established his reputation in 1871 in Bologna in the Italian premiere of Wagner’s Lohengrin. London impresario James Henry Mapleson recruited his services in 1872 for the Drury Lane season. Having made his debut in Lucrezia Borgia, he took the London musical world by storm during the 1870s. In the winter of 1878/9 Mapleson undertook a major opera tour of the United States, in which Campanini was his principal tenor and Luigi Arditi the conductor. He returned to London and further extended his repertoire (which eventually would total eighty operas). He spent 1883 in Parma to support the career of his brother, the orchestral conductor Cleofonte Campanini. After that season he lived primarily in New York serving as the Metropolitan’s leading tenor. As the power of his voice diminished, he took on a second career as a manager. He remained a member of the Metropolitan Company from 1891 to 1894. Campanini died at the Villa Vigatto, near Parma, in November 1896.

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