Four Famous Baritones Of The Past

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Umberto Urbano was born in Livorno on 16 October 1885. After studying singing in Rome he made his debut in 1907 in Trieste. Little is known of his subsequent career. In February 1924 he scored a big success when he sang Rigoletto twice in London. In 1925 he appeared at La Scala in Milan as the Herald in "Lohengrin". Two years later he made a guest appearance as Rene in "Un hallo in maschera" at the Vienna State Opera. All of these were, so to speak, one-night stands. On the other band, he was a celebrated guest at the National Opera in Prague almost every year, as well as in Bratislava and Brno. He was also heard frequently in Budapest. The many concerts he gave attracted •great public attention, especially from the ladies, for Urbano was a very good-looking man. His recording career began in 1925, and some of his releases sold sensationally high numbers of copies. Within a period of just four years he recorded no fewer than 96 titles: most of them were mechanical recordings, only•some of which were replaced by electrical recordings. His career as a concert artist appears to have ended in 1933. He then probably lived for many years in Prague before returning to Italy, where he died on 16 June 1969 in Rome. Celestino Sarobe, whose full name was Celestino Aguirre Sarobe Zadarain, was born in 1892 in Orio near San Sebastian. He first studied medicine, but then he trained as a singer and began giving concerts and song recitals in Spain around 1914. The famous baritone Mattia Battistini heard him and invited him to Rome, where he gave him lessons. Sarobe's operatic debut took place in 1919 in Barcelona's Teatro Liceo in "La Morisca" by Pahissa. In the same year, the soprano Maria Llacer gave him a contract with her opera company for a tour through Italy. He sang extremely successfully at the Teatro Real in Madrid from 1920 to 1925, and in 1923-24 at the Teatro Liceo in Barcelona, and he was valued principally as the partner of the great tenor Hip6lito Lazaro. At this time he was also a guest artist at the Teatro San Carlos in Lisbon and in Cologne as Rigoletto. In 1925 he went to Italy and joined an Italian travelling company for a tour of Germany. In 1927 he sang the role of Fanuele in "Nerone" by Boito at La Scala in Milan under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. In 1928 he went to Berlin where he gave concerts and also worked as a singing teacher. The same year brought a successful guest appearance in Hamburg. His warm-timbred, expressive voice was a real cavalier baritone which brilliantly mastered the Italian repertoire. After returning to his Spanish homeland he taught as a professor at the Conservatory of the Teatro Liceo in Barcelona, and in that city he died in 1952. Carlo Drago Hrzic was born in Zagreb on 2 February 1896. His real name was Drago Hrzic, and he occasionally sang under the name of Karl Drago. He studied first with M. Vuskovic in Zagreb and then he became a pupil of Franz Steiner in Vienna, a formerly famous concert artist. Hrzic made his debut in 1919 at the National Theatre in Zagreb as Dako in the Croatian opera "Povratak" by Josip Hatze. He remained a highly regarded member of the company there until 1945, marking up successes in a broad range of roles: as the eponymous heroes of the Verdi operas "Rigoletto", "Simone Boccanegra", and "Falstaff', as Count Luna in "II Trovatore", Michele in Puccini's "II Tabarro", Yeletzky in Tchaikovsky's "Pique Dame" and Escamillo in "Carmen". In 1925 he made a guest appearance at the Vienna State Opera, and he also sang in Berlin. In addition to his work on the lyric stage he was an esteemed concert soloist. His recordings are extremely rare and have become collectors' items. Hrzic died in his home town, Zagreb, on 21 November 1978. Alexander (Sandor) Sved was born in Budapest on 28 May 1906. At the Budapest Conservatory he first studied violin playing, but the switched to vocal training when his voice was discovered. The finishing touches were supplied by, the famous vocal pedagogues Mario Sammarco and Riccardo Stracciari. His first contract was with the Budapest Opera, but he made a guest appearance at the Vienna State Operaon 10 September1931as Silvioin "I Pagliacci". Three years later he was engaged by the Vienna Opera and he remained a member of the ensemble until 1938. His successes in Vienna did not go unnoticed elsewhere. Guest roles in London, Salzburg and Florence led to a contract with La Scala in Milan, from where - as opera fans know - it is not far to the Metropolitan. There he sang for ten years, with frequent guest appearances in Italy. One of his roles in Rome was Hans Sachs in "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg". After the Second World War, Alexander Sved was heard as a guest artist in Vienna in May 1950. In 1951 he visited his family in Hungary and was forced to stay there when he did not get permission to leave the country. He then sang occasionally at the Budapest Opera. Not until 1956 was he at last able to leave Hungary. He died on 9 June 1979 in Vienna.