Piero Cappuccilli

Piero Cappuccilli (November 9, 1926 – July 11, 2005) was an Italian operatic baritone. Best known for his interpretations of Verdi roles, he was widely regarded as one of the finest Italian baritones of the second half of the 20th century. He was enormously admired within the field of opera for his rich and abundant voice, fine vocal technique and exceptional breath control. In the great Italian tradition he fused words and music into elegant phrases. He focused on Italian repertory, particularly the operas of Verdi, singing 17 major roles.

Piero Cappuccilli (1975)

Early lifeEdit

Born in Trieste, Cappuccilli originally intended to become an architect. He auditioned at a local opera house in 1949, where Luciano Donaggio (a retired singer beginning a second career as a teacher) heard him and urged him to study. Cappuccilli was still reluctant, believing he had a better potential career as an architect, and even briefly discontinued his lessons, until Donnaggio's urging and the offer of free lessons persuaded him to resume studies in 1950. He studied with Luciano Donaggio in his native city. After encouragement from relatives he decided to pursue a career in opera and made his stage debut there in 1951, singing small parts.[1]


In 1955, Cappuccilli auditioned for La Scala in Milan, where the auditioners, deeply impressed, encouraged him to enter the Viotti competition. After his first place award, he made his official operatic debut in 1957 at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan, singing Tonio in Pagliacci. In 1960, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Giorgio Germont in La traviata, which was to be his only performance at the Met.[1]

Cappuccilli spent most of his career singing in Europe, with only infrequent travels to North and South America. He made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala in 1964, as Enrico, at the Royal Opera House in London as Germont in 1967, and his Opéra de Paris debut took place in 1978, as Amonasro. He also appeared at the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. He worked with the greatest European conductors of his time (Karajan, Gavazzeni, Abbado, Kleiber) and became one of the finest interpreters of the Italian repertoire.

Cappuccilli was highly respected as a "Verdi baritone", where his beautiful voice, fine vocal technique, musical elegance and dignified stage presence were shown to their best advantage.

He left an impressive discography, he recorded Lucia di Lammermoor three times, first with Maria Callas in 1959, then with Margherita Guglielmi and finally with Beverly Sills in 1970. Other notable recordings include; Rigoletto, opposite Ileana Cotrubas and Plácido Domingo, under Carlo Maria Giulini, Macbeth, opposite Shirley Verrett, and Simon Boccanegra, opposite Mirella Freni and Nicolai Ghiaurov, both under Claudio Abbado. He had previously recorded Simon Boccanegra under Gavazzeni, opposite Katia Ricciarelli. He also recorded Don Carlo, Il trovatore and Aida under Herbert von Karajan

Cappuccilli sang until his mid-sixties; an automobile accident in 1992 ended his stage career. He died in his native Trieste, at the age of 78.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

He is survived by his wife, Graziella; three children, Patrizia, Giovanni and Pier Paolo; and two grandchildren, according to the Trieste newspaper.





  • Rino Alessi, Piero Cappuccilli: Un baritono da leggenda / The Baritone become a Legend, Comunicarte Edizioni, Trieste 2009.
  • Grove Music Online, J.B. Steane, Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Opera News, Obituaries, October 2005.

External linksEdit