Franco Corelli, Dario Corelli’s stage name, was born in Ancona on April 8th, 1921 and was an active tenor from the fifties to the seventies of the twentieth century. He belonged to a family who loved opera: his grandfather Augusto Corelli was a good standard tenor and two paternal uncles were choristers tenors; his father and mother were also singing enthusiasts, and they practiced it as a hobby. Boasting an athletic body, he practiced swimming, in 1939 he graduated as a surveyor, and after his military service, in 1942 he was employed at the Municipality of Ancona. In those years he started attending the meetings that were held in the halls of "Doric casino", the cultural circle of the Teatro delle Muse and he became fond on opera music and convinced of turning to singing. With his voice of rare magnitude and extent, in 1946 he began attending the "Corale Bellini" of his city, singing as a baritone. Carlo Scaravelli, the friend whom he collaborated with as an autodidact, introduced him the maestro Arturo Melocchi from the Conservatory of Pesaro, whose teachings enabled him to extend his range to that of a tenor. Corelli said about it: "After a few months I regained my freedom in singing and in my high notes". There followed the decision to seriously pursue an opera singer career. On 27 January 1961 he made his debut at the Metropolitan Theatre in New York, in the role of Manrico of "Il trovatore" (together with another exceptional debutant, Leontyne Price), thus beginning a long and successful American career. At the Metropolitan he remained for sixteen consecutive seasons, singing the works of his great repertoire: Don Carlo, Aida, The Force of Destiny, Verdi's Ernani, Turandot, Tosca, La Fanciulla del West, La Bohème by Puccini, Andrea Chenier, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci , Adriana Lecouvreur. He also took part in La Gioconda, Roméo et Juliette, Werther, Lucia di Lammermoor. Corelli participated in 369 performances at the Met, concluding the activity in the New York theatre in 1974.
In 1950 he was admitted to an improvers course at the Theatre of Florence and the following year won the competition of the Municipal Experimental Opera Theatre of Spoleto showing mainly to prefer covering roles of lyric and and dramatic genre. In 1954 he made his debut at the Theatre "La Scala" in Milan with Maria Callas and in 1961 at the Metropolitan Theatre in New York. He was also present in many Italian, European and American theatres. He was also present in the other major Italian theatres (Florence, Verona, Naples etc.), in Europe (Vienna, London, Berlin, Barcelona, Lisbon) and US (San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia). Equipped with undeniable charm and great stage presence, he participated in several movies-works made by RAI (National Italian Television) in the sixties and seventies, both in studio and as theater shootings. The last performance was in 1976 in La Bohème in Torre del Lago and the final goodbye to singing in November 1981 in Stockholm, on the occasion of a concert in honor of Birgit Nilsson. As shown by different sound files, Corelli decided to retire, unlike many famous colleagues of all time, only after a slight hint of vocal decline, when it was still capable of remarkable performance. In 1982 a movie about his career was made, using his numerous recordings. Ancona, his hometown, in collaboration with the local Association of Opera Friends, for three years dedicated to him a singing contest, of which he was president, summoning in the jury his distinguished colleagues, among the largest of the opera world. During the second edition Corelli released a video-interview in which he spoke about his entire career. Confidential and kind, he never boasted about his great qualities, he only said on several occasions that he had just been very lucky.
He died in Milan in 2003 because of a stroke; He is buried in the Monumental Cemetery of Milan. The Teatro delle Muse in Ancona is dedicated to him. Beyond any critical judgment, Corelli, thanks to his vocal means and performance as an interpreter, was undoubtedly a maximum tenor among the singers of the second half of the twentieth century. He excelled in the lyric-spinto and dramatic repertoire in the Romantic nineteenth-century tenor field, which, prior to his advent, had been forgotten for a long time.
Date and place of birth: April 8th, 1921 Ancona
Died on October 29th, 2003 in Milan
Buried in the Monumental cemetery of Milan