Monday, March 2, 2020

The tenor Baragli: size counts ...

.
Baragli? Who? Well, I'd passed by his name on occasion, over the years, in my wanderings through the C19th opera world, without taking any particular notice, until yesterday when this rather nice photo surfaced on ebay .. It caught my eye because ... well, it looks exactly like my friend, Jack Marshall, in fancy 1860s dress ... and I thought, let's look him up.


Oh. He's not in Kutsch & Riemans. In fact, he doesn't feature in anything I have on my shelves, not even Kellogg's imaginative autobiography, excepting an appearance in that excellent Dudley Cheke biography of Joséphine and Emilie (the Demérics). So, we start from scratch. Which is always the way I do things, anyway. Though a cribsheet/checklist is sometimes nice!

Well, the history of Signor Ranieri Baragli turned out to be quite a jolly story, and quite a strange one.  The young fellow pictured above -- at age about 24 -- had a career of a quarter of a century as a primo tenore. During those 25 years, he must have had -- repeatedly -- some of the most awful notices known to tenordom. Yet he carried on, cast in leading roles opposite first-class prime donne, gathering more and more ghastly press ...
Yes, he was tall and handsome. Yes, he was an excellent actor. Yes, his pretty tenor voice had been beautifully trained. But ... it was tiny. Time and again, critics complained that his singing didn't reach the back of the opera house, that he was drowned out by the orchestra; time and again adjectives the equivalent, in five languages, of 'weak', 'feeble', 'thin', 'trembling' ... featured in the reviews ... yet Signor Baragli was hired and hired again for some of the world's biggest opera houses. And, occasionally, he was found to be delicious ... if small. So, how did it happen?

Well, a good start in life always helps. And a good start can be hugely helped by getting into the company of celebrated and influential people. In Baragli's case, the first and greatest of these was his singing teacher, the former tenor and composer turned agent and impresario, Antonio Ronzi (1813-1873). Yes, the brother of the even more celebrated Guiseppina Ronzi, sometime Mrs de Begnis, and of Luigi Ronzi (baritone), with whom he combined in the agency-production company of the Fratelli Ronzi. The Ronzi brothers, as was the custom of the time, took various Italian theatres for a 'season' -- carnevale, autunno, quaresima -- and put in a company to play operas for that season. The choice of operas was naturally dictated by criteria not always as artistic as financial, and the choice of artists was, also, very often dictated by the desire to use agency clients. Apparently the agency took up to 50% commission to get/give you a job. But it was an understood thing at the time and place that you had to pay in some way for a 'debut' and sometimes that paying went on for a decade.

Enter young Signor Baragli from Arezzo. And his little sister, Caterina, a singing pupil at the Firenze Conservatoire. The young Ranieri evidently began his musical life as a violinist, for I see him, in 1855, playing the fiddle at the Benefit of the tenor Sergardi at Montepulciano. Which would seem to signify that, like little sister, he was based in Firenze. Firenze was, of course, also the home base of the Ronzi operation.

I see it suggested that the very young tenor made his first singing appearance at the Firenze Pergola (managers: Fratelli Ronzi) in 1856. I think, rather, 1858. It is a little confusing, as the Fratelli were apparently also handing a 'primo tenore' by name Ranieri Bertazzi at the same time ... but primavera 1858 will do me. Amongst the company were bass Giuseppe Segri-Sagara, baritone Filippo Coletti, first tenor Giuseppe Villani, prima donna Enrichetta Weiser ... young Sig Baragli was the 'supplente', the comprimario (although billed as a 'primo tenore'), cast as Aaron in Mose and the pescatore in Guillaume Tell. Mose didn't go down very well, so Tell was hastened on ... The journal Il Piovano Arlotto published a vast review. The critic was thrilled that the Ronzis had taken on such a work, and had but few reservations ... he didn't care for Madame Weiser's Mathilde, and 'we would have chosen another Pescatore...'. 'Il pescatore Baragli riesce a pescare, con indignazione e scandalo pubblico, per quanto non se ne trovi ne'torrenti, certi negozi che in zoologia furono battezzati col nome honesto di 'fistularia tubulosa'.  Well, it might have been the first, but it would not, by a long way, the worst of many such horrid notices. And it wasn't about to stop.

The Ronzis had taken on the Teatro Grande at Trieste 'for three years', and for the autunno season of 1858 they opened there with a company headed by the French prime donne, Charton-Demeur (later Eugénie Julienne-Déjean), and a good handful of tenors, notably, Villani. The season, from September to December, announced six operas (Lucia di Lammermoor, Guglielmo Tell, L'Ebreo, La Sonnambula, I Puritani, La Traviata), of which I have found our tenor listed only in a repeat of his crucified Pescatore, alongside Villani, Giovanni Guicciardi and the faded Elisa Biscaccianti. The production was 'un completo naufragio'. The carnevale season which followed apparently got into tenor trouble, and at one stage, in February, it seemed that the 'supplente' might have had to go on in a lead role. But the Ronzis hired Antonio Alaimo for Traviata and, when he got snooty, they then sent on Ettore Irfré for Ernani and Trovatore and the new I Moschettieri -- Baragli doesn't feature in the cast list of this one -- the history of the Theatre and the press of the time don't quite agree (the press was probably faking), but, anyway, if Sig Baragli didn't go on, he was at least allowed, in one paper, to 'possede voce gradevole ma di piccolo volume'.

When the season closed at Trieste, I lose our man for a bit. And when he does turn up, it is back in Firenze. Where he may have been all the time. I see him at the Ronzis' Teatro Pergola singing Elvino to the Amina of Rosina Laborde (17 February 1860) and the Count of baritone Massera. Laborde had a 'nuovo trionfo' and the men were allowed to be 'bravi artisti'.

It is December when I spot him next, and he's now in Germany. Leading tenor with one of those 'Italian Opera Company' groups which flitted around the European provinces playing a week or two here and there. This one was under the management of the experienced Lasina brothers and it boasted a genuine star at its head: the end-of-career Jeanne Castellan. It opened in December at Hannover playing Lucia di Lammermoor, I Puritani and La Sonnambula and the press reported 'Die Gesellschaft ist in der That, wenn wir ein einzige Mitglied -- Sigra Castellan -- ausnehmen, unbedeutend'.  However, one critic, maybe with sharper hearing reported of his Ernesto that he 's'est montré digne partenaire de la cantatrice'. Another took more than a couple of lines to analyse ‘eine wohlgeschulte Stimme von angenahmen, sympathischen Klange, aber ist leider so fein und dünn dass der Sanger um nur einigermassen steigern zu können den grossten Theil der Partie nur mezza voce singt; wo dann die Begleitung komplicirter und starker ist, wird die Stimme absolut unhörbar … '. 

The company moved on to Hamburg and to Mannheim ('Der Tenor, ein jugendlicher mit einer sehr ansprechenden Stimme begabter Sänger von ebenfalls guter Schüle..') and then to Berlin, as the Lasinas and another of the touring managagements, Lorini, joined forces. Castellan seemed to have vanished (one paper killed her off!) from one company, and the tenor Carrion had not materialised for the other, so Baragli ended up as primo tenore of a sort of combo, first at the Viktoria Theater singing opposite another senior diva, Rosine Laborde (La Sonnambula 'ein schöner lyrische tenor mit hübscher Schule, die er aber mitunder no recht unbeholfen verwendet') then, from Easter Monday at the openair Krolls Theater. One paper allowed him a 'hübsche weiche Stimme' another firmly pronounced 'The only good singer is the once famous Madame Laborde'. But Baragli got to join the prima donna (and pianist von Bulow) in a concert at the royal palace, before they set off to dates in Stettin and Milan. And, apparently Russia. For in August, the press reported than Ronzi, accompanied by his pupil Baragli had returned thence to Germany ..

Since he didn't come back to Berlin a lot, I imagine that some time in the past year was when our photo was taken ..


I have no proof, but I am certain that Sig Baragli's next job was due, also, to the ever-supportive Ronzi. On 16 October 1861 he opened as Alfredo in La Traviata at Lisbon's Theatro San Carlo . 'Sehr gefallen'. Don Pasquale, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, L'Elisir d'amore, La Figlia del Reggimento followed. Fraschini took Ernani and Un ballo in maschera, and Tagliazucchi Rigoletto. Things seemed to be going decidedly well after all. So he pressed on. Through into 1862 ...

29 July he made what seems to have been a first appearance in Paris. The venue was the Château des Maison, the occasion a charity concert hosted by the Lablache family. 'Un jeune ténor qui doit débuter aux Italiens ...' claimed the music press. Indeed? Well, why not. The régisseur at the Italian opera of Paris was ... Monsieur Ronzi. He sang 'avec beaucoup d charme, la romance de Martha, et très brillament l'air célèbre du Pirate .' 'Ce ténor de premier ordre vient de Lisbonne; il a un organe admirable, une méthode élevée, et beaucoup de delicatesse ...'. The reort was picked up further afield: 'a young but unknown tenor [who] sang Rubini's well-known aria in Il Pirata with great effect..'

The Italiens was not for yet, however. Only, its manager, Bagier, who also had the concession for Madrid. And it was to the Teatro Oriente of Madrid that Mons Baragli duly headed to share the duties of primo tenore with Geremia Bettini. Bettini sang Il Trovatore with Carozzi Zucchi and Deméric Lablache to open the season, and the piece was a vast success, Bettini sang Lucrezia Borgia and  Norma with Anna Lagrange, Bettini sang Lionel in Martha with Mesdames Lagrange and Lablache, Bettini sang Les Huguenots, Fraschini came in to do Lucia, Rigoletto, Ballo in maschera. La Forza del destino and Poliuto, but Sig Baragli was there, and in the shadow of the great hits of the season -- Trovatore, Martha and especially Norma, which was such a hit that the Madrilenes erected a statue of Lagrange in the character in the foyer -- he apparently got to sing Il Barbiere, La Sonnambula, Don Pasquale, Linda di Chamonix, and second to Bettini in Zampa. And then Bettini had some sort of 'illness' and had to have an operation on his arm. He was off almost till the end of the season. So it was Baragli who got to sing I Puritani with Mme Lagrange. When the Poiniatowski opera Pie[t]ro de Medici (5 April 1863) was produced he is said to have taken part, though the reviews don't mention him. Fraschini was the tenor.  The season's summaries lauded Bettini and Fraschini. Baragli was listed in the fair-enoughs along with ... Padilla!

(Lagrange and Padilla pictured below, blogger won't allow them to be moved or captioned)







But if the local historian (Carmena y Millán) rated him a distant third in the Madrilene tenor department, a different story was being retailed elsewhere. 'From Berlin ... now the idol of Madrid .. 28 years old and exceedingly good-looking'. 'Jeune ténor d'avenir'. He was scheduled for no less an engagement than to sing Braham's great role of Sir Huon in Oberon at London's Italian opera. The Saturday Review sniped cruelly 'Signor Baragli enjoys some reputation in Madrid ... as he is to be the Sir Huon in Oberon, he must be a tenore robsto'.

He travelled to London. Oberon was set for later in the season, so he was lined up to sing Edgardo to the Lucia di Lammermoor of Titiens. But come the date, it was postponed. Giuglini stepped in. Then again. Finally nearly three weeks late (26 May 1862) Baragli appeared as Edgardo on the stage of Her Majesty's Theatre. And flopped. Some of the papers were gentle: 'He possesses considerable dramatic feeling, but his voice by no means corresponds to his aesthetical views, and at time it was really difficult to hear him distinctly. Perhaps he was nervous'.

The critic did not get much of a chance to judge. Ranieri Baragli made one-and-a-half more operatic appearances at the Italian opera -- a Figlia di reggimento with a past-it Piccolomini (30 May, 'appeared to greater advantage in the music of Tonio than of Edgardo'), and a cheap nights repeat of Lucia (29 July). Sims Reeves was brought in to give a magnificent Sir Huon, and rumours that he would sing Rigoletto with Mme Volpini and delle Sedie proved to be nothing but a face saver. While Berlin and Paris reported his London success in traditional music-journal fashion, the London papers dealt the wholesome truth. 'He made no effect'. 'He seems to be another failure'. 'Signor Baragli did not please ... he was entrusted with no other part ...'. 'Signor Baragli, the over-much extolled tenor, will hardly be regretted'. Too much, too soon: any hope of a British career was gone for ever. He never returned.

Paris needed to be encouraged to believe in Baragli's 'success', for Messrs Ronzi and Bagier had already signed up the tenor for Paris's Italiens season. The German press sniffed 'Baragli wird als Almaviva im Barbier debutiren und vermuthlich einem ähnlichen Schicksale wie in London entgegensehen..'. Well, Paris wasn't quite as sudden-death as London. For in Paris the young man had the support and backing of his manager and his agent-director, who had an interest in making him a success. And they worked it hard. But you couldn't buy off every paper and magazine in Paris ... and, was it really sensible to put the young man forward as Almaviva, previously sung by Mario? Some were kind

'Un tenorino ... Au tant qu'on peut juger d'après le très mince filet de voix que la peur avait laissé a sa disposition, M Baragli ne manque ni de goût ni d'habilété'

'Le ténor Baragli est un beau cavalier qui plaït par son extérieur, et qui charme autant par le timbre efféminée de sa voix que par la liesse de son style..'

'Baragli qui vocalise comme un ange, n'a pas de voix'

'Die Stimmen Sterbinis und Baraglis sind nicht von grossem'

'Quelque succès: sa voix est minche, mais d'une grande flexibilité; il vocalise à merveille; c'est un fort agréable ténorino...'

'M Baragli ne manque ni de talent, ni de goût, il chante bien, vocalise avec facilié, joue gentiment et porte un plysqieu assez agréable. Mais sa voix est si petite et si blanche! Le medium manque de timbre. Dans les ensembles on cherche vainement Almaviva. Il a disparu dans la foule comme le Petit Poucet au milieu de ses frères'

The technique was splendid. The voice was tiny. And Fraschini and Mario and Nicolini were on the Italiens books ... but Baragli got to sing La Sonnambula and Cenerentola and the results were just the same:

'Fort agréable de sa personne, [il] est un tenorino dont la voix nous a paru d'abord interceptée par la brouillard. C'est du moins une vois des plus minces...'

'M Baragli n'a qu'un petit filet de voix. Presque imperceptible. Passe encore s'il donnait franchement le peu dont nature l'a gratifiée..'

'Le ténorino treblant de M Baragli lorsqu'il enfource la note, me représente un cavalier qui, avant perdu les étriers ...'

'Sa voix est trop faible pour Elvino...'

'dont la voix passe difficilement la rampe'

But he would sing Elvino and Almaviva endless times in the next twenty years.

Baragli didn't have to look far for his next job. The boys were taking him back to Madrid with the rest of the Italiens tenori. .  and there, after sitting doing nothing while Mario, Fraschini et al did therir stuff, he gave more I Puritani with Lagrange (23 February 1864), Figlia di Reggimento with Charton-Demeur, Don Giovanni (20 April) with Lagrange, Borghi-Mamo ..

In June, he joined a company, rather like his previous 'Italian opera' for Germany, with Giuseppina Vitali 'from Bologna', Mme Deméric-Lablache, Tito Sterbini and Antonucci. They played 11 nights in Cologne, and some more at Frankfurt, and Baragli, prino tenore assoluto of this little bunch, rolled out his Almaviva, his Elvino, his Puritani ... before the new season's start at the Italiens.

Adelina Patti

He seems to have started with Don Pasquale, playing opposite Adelina Patti and the stalwart Scalese.  As usual, his notices were divergent. Depending on whether you thought size mattered. 'Baragli chante avec beaucoup d'âme et style le role d'Ernesto'. '[Il a] fait des progrès [mais sa voix est0 deporvue de timbre'. 'Le ténorinetto Baragli, pour vouloir trop bien faire peut-être, a manqué la chanson du dernier act', 'Baragli devrait bien tacher de surmonter [la peur]: ell lui fait tremblotter la voix au point de compromettre de trèes réelles qualités ...' 'Le tenorino Baragli n'a pas plus de voix que année dernière. On dirait qu'etre sa bouche ouverte et le public une main invisible vient placer un épais capiton'. When he and Patti repeated their Barbiere, it was the same old tune: 'Baragli a peu de voix et minaude en chantant, mais il vocalise toujours à ravir ...'.

Brignoli

He appeared in Don Giovanni once more, replaced Brignoli in Linda di Chamonix and Nicolini in Rigoletto then headed south to Madrid again (Barbiere, Sonnambula, Don Pasquale with Patti). And then out on another tour (manager: Ronzi) playing the usual repertoire (Barbiere, Sonnambula, Lucia and .. surely not! Il Trovatore) with Rosina Laborde and Sterbini. I see them at Leipzig ('mit seine allerdings wunderbaren Kehl- und Zungenfertigkeit aber mit seiner winzig kleinen und stark tremolirenden Stimme'), Prague, Breslavia ...

The 1865-6 season at the Italiens brought more of the same. Il Barbiere with Patti, Don Pasquale with Vitali ('chantait la sérénade du fond de la coulisse: c'était un peu loin pour l'entendre'), Don Bucefalo ('Baragli chante toujours avec inifiniment d'art et de facilité, mais sa voix est toujours de la plus mince category' 'perhaps he had a cold'). And, after a bit of guesting at Rouen and the Théâtre de la Monnaie at Brussels with the Ronzi/Bagier team, headed by Lagrange (Crispino e la comare, Il Barbiere, Semiramide, Don Giovanni, Linda di Chamonix), a first-time Gazza ladra with Patti.

In June he departed for Madrid. But the situation was a touch different. His management contract with the Ronzis had terminated, 30 March, and his reserved place in the Ronzi companies, which had provided a major part of his employment was no longer guaranteed. He turned to the agency Verger, and got hired for ... America.

Clara Louise Kellogg
Signor Baragli made his first appearance in America for Maurice Grau and Max Maretzek 13 October 1866 at Brooklyn, giving his Elvino to the Amina of the young Minnie Hauck. The reaction was precisely what it had been everywhere else: 'a qualified success. His voice is of good quality, what there is of it ... His small voice was lost in the vastness of the Academy [of Music]. He hasn't the timbre for a primo tenore'.
The troupe moved on to Philadelphia (18 October) where the two company soprani, Hauck and Kellogg, were teamed in L'Etoile du nord and 'the tenor di grazia of Signor Baragli was at times hardly equal to the emergencies of Danilowitz, but on the whole it was acceptably rendered. His distinct enunciation, artistic style and fervent manner atoned in great measure for the lightness of his voice'. Philadelphia, like Boston, with no axe to grind, often had a knack of putting it in a nutshell.
L'Elisir d'amore with Antonietta Ronconi, the inevitable Il Barbiere ('a very gentlemanly count') with la Kellogg, and when it cam to Trovatore he stepped aside for Mazzoleni. Unfortunately, 'Mazzoleni no longer sings, he shouts ... Baragli is far preferable; possessing a light voice, singing with feeling and executing unusually well. It is not often a tenore can trill on la above the staff..'. Petrella's La Carnival de Venice with Kellogg and with Baragli as Orestes, and he appeared in a number of concerts including a series at New York's Steinway Hall in June 1867 where he, as ever, delivered mainly operatic selections ('He does 'Il mio tesoro' in a manner so vastly superior to what we are accustomed, but his style is meretricious ..), but he came to grief when he joined Parepa in the Rossini Stabat Mater. He was 'drowned by the orchestra'.

Parepa
He sang with the Parepa concert party -- and actually gave an Abt song ('Good night, sleep well') amid his endeless arias --sang opera with the Ronconis for Maretzek, returned to New York with the Ronconis and Parepa, sang Don Bucefalo with Peralta, 'charmed the Philadelphians', 

Angiola Peralta

played Lucrezia Borgia with Marietta Gazzaniga ... and in March 1868 visited South America (Havana, Gran Teatro de Tacon) with a 'Gran Compania de Opera Italiana'. I see they gave Faust, La Traviata, La Favorita et doubtless al. Anyway, he survived the perils of Cuba and, by the winter, was back in Europe, engaged at ... Madrid.

Mélanie Reboux
I see him singing there (Naudin, Tiberini and Tamberlik were billed for the season as well) with the exciting Mélanie Reboux (Faust, Il Barbiere), Emmie Lagrua (La Favorita), and Rita Sonnieri (Martha, Lucia di Lammermoor), and playing Leopold in La Juive with Tamberlik and Reboux .. he apparently depped for Tiberini in Rigoletto 18 January 1870.

Following him around in the next few years is a bit hectic. He was one of the five tenors billed for the season at Cairo, in early 1870, which featured Mlle Sarolta (see my article 'the Sultan's Soprano Supper') and Naudin, where he is said to have played Faust and Crispino e la comare ...
Now, wee problem. Having completed my researches, I lit upon an Italian website which displays a partial chronology of Baragli's career. It misses quite a few of the engagements I've listed so far, but when we get to the 1870s it includes a considerable number that I have not, so far, found. And the first is no less than La Scala Milan, Corentin in Dinorah. January 1870. I hastened to the Gazzetta musicale di Milano. Oh, wow! The season had just opened with that Poniatowski opera he'd played at Madrid, so ... So, no. Both Piero di Medicis and Dinorah were played by Zaccometti. And anyway, Baragli was surely in Cairo?
For how long, I know not. But by October he is at the Teatro Communale of Bologna, where he is playing Dinorah, alongside Angelica Peralta and Enrico Storti and adjudged 'un valente interprete' who gained 'molti applausi'. Fraschini sang the other operas.

Angelica Peralta
13 April 1871, however, he is in Milan. It was the end of the Carnevale season at La Scala, and Il Barbiere di Siviglia was put on, seemingly for one performance, to mark the inauguration of a statue of Rossini in the theatre's foyer. The Belgian soprano Felicità Pernini was Rosina for the occasion, and Baragli was Almaviva, and it was judged 'mediocre'. When the Barbiere was brought back, later in the year, Barbara Marchisio and Pardini headed the cast.

Our Italian list (La voce antica) places him in May at Bilbao, at the end of 1871 and into 1872 at Taganrog and Kharkov in Russia (Rigoletto, Il Barbiere, La Traviata, I Lombardi), followed by Cremona (Il Barbiere, Don Pasquale) and La Coruna (Lucrezia Borgia, Il Barbiere). I am sure this is right, but I haven't picked up any of these. I catch up with him and the list in August 1872, opening the Teatro Circo, San Sebastian with Varvara and Mlle Llanes in La Favorita, and all his usual repertoire ... and, what? being dubbed a Chevalier of the Order of King Charles III of Spain!  The list posits Gibraltar in October (L'Elisir, Marta), and in November we find him back in Madrid giving Cenerentola with Fanny Vogri, Dinorah with Camille de Maesen, and La Juive with Marie Sass and Barbacini. The list says he popped off to Ancona for a bit (Sonnambula, Il Barbiere) but,
in March, I see him back in Madrid, singing La Traviata with Carolina de Cepeda. The seasonal summary says he gave 35 performances in four roles.

In May 1873 he turned up playing Les Diamants de la couronne with the signore Tagliana and Cosmelli at the Milan Commedia: 'Al tenore Ranieri-Baragli non manca l'ingegno nè la frachezza scenica, nè il tono giusto:a lui però vien meno spesso la voce: non cade perchè sa cantare, ma sta in piedi come per miracolo'. Next came, says the List, May 1874, the T Balbo, Turin followed by the Politeama, Naples as Amenofis in Mose. I catch up 15 September 1874, when he can be seen in Rome singing Le Comte Ory with la Pernini at the Teatro Valle, and Dinorah with Mlle de Maesen at the Apollo. The List adds the Teatro Argentina (Le Pré aux clercs etc). He is said to have stayed in Rome till the end of the year, then moved to the Fenice, Venice for the Quaresima season. The repertoire there included Dinorah, Il Guarany, Lucia di Lammermoor and Poliuto, but Tamagno headed the tenor listings, and Baragli may have only sung his Corentin alongside Peralta, Capponi and Galassi.

Tamagno
Now the list really comes into its own: Lecce, Bari, the T Rossini, Rome, San Remo, Pola, Chieti, Monza, Sondrio, Cremona, 15 April 1876 at the opening of the Tearo Marrucino with Sofia Lorini, before my evidence catches up in Bastia in 1877. I see him giving his Almaviva alongside Miss Laura Woolwine ka Bellini as part of a largely Verdi season.

Apparently he went next to Fiume, and then to St Petersburg under the Ciampi management. Eight tenors were listed. What he sang there, I dont know. The List reckons it was Corentin, Jean de Leyden and Walther von Stolzing. The last two, I refuse flatly to believe. It seems that he appeared only as Laertes to the Amleto of Padilla and the Desdemona of Donadio. St Petersburg is always a problem. It doesn't seem to have been documented even by an American undergraduate.

Here, in the face of a tag end of career, I got a bit spotty in my searching, but The List ploughs valiantly on: Verona, more Rome at the Teatro Argentina ('Baraldi 'molto bene accolto' as Almaviva with Matilde Milani-Vela, Don Bucefalo) , Milan's Teatro Manzoni (Usiglio's Le Nozze in prigione), Cagliari (Fra Diavolo with Itala Fiorenza, 'un perfetto Fra Diavolo', L'Elisir d'amore with Angiola Vinea Paoletti), Torino, Alba, Massa Superiore (August 1884) when he sang at the inauguration of the local Teatro Cotogni. The critic judged that 'oggi a voce gli manca, a segno che dovra ritirarsi affato del teatro'. 'Oggi' was being kind. One Almaviva too many?

Cotogni


But it had been a long career for a man judged, from day one, to have 'pas de voix'.

He did make it to the pages one sort-of-reference-book. Les Théâtres en robe de chambre, published in 1866. A very informal glance at the singers of the day during Baragli's Italiens period:

'BARAGLI Celui que l-'on appelle le ténor transi, et sur lequel les critiques tombent à plume raccourcie. La voix, qui paraît au premier abord assez ample, ne va pas jusqu'au fond de la salle. Il a été engagé aux Italiens par un de ces commissionnaires en art dramatique ou lyrique qui font presque marché de viande humaine...'. He goes on to reveal the agency connection and the vast commission paid to the Ronzi Fratelli.

Baragli fait beaucoup d'effet, dans un salon; à la scène, c'est un ténor insuffisant : il ne manque pas d'un certain style et de méthode, mais il est froid et il semble continuellement jouer sous l'impression fâcheuse d'une maladie qu'on appelle le choléra'.

There is little more to say, except that Ranieri Baragli retired to teach singing, and died, at the age of 63, in Milan 5 February 1899. Sister Caterina, who had fulfilled a tidy career as a soprano, died in 1911, aged 70, at the Casa di Riposo Verdi.





























































No comments: