~Aureliano Pertile At The Met~
 Aureliano Pertile

           During the summer of 1921 Giulio
           Gatti-Casazza, General Manager of the
           Metropolitan Opera, surveyed the first-class
           tenors of the world in preparation for the
           1921-22 season. Among those he considered
           who had never sung at the Metropolitan were
           Fernand Ansseau, Joseph Hislop, Alfred
           Piccaver, and Ulysses Lappas. Joseph Mann, the
           Polish heroic tenor, was actually scheduled to
           take over many roles for the ailing Enrico
           Caruso, but he dropped dead during a Berlin
           performance of Aida that September. One whom
           Gatti particularly wanted was the Italian tenor
           Aureliano Pertile (1885-1952), whose Met
           engagement Gatti announced to the Met's
           President, Otto Kahn, from Venice on August 7,
           1921. "Another tenor, who during the past
           seasons has had ... a whole series of simply
           brilliant successes is Mr. Aureliano Pertile who
           has sung in all the principal theatres of Italy,
           Spain and South America. His voice is not a
           golden voice, it is rather arid but firm and manly.
           Moreover he is a very serious artist, very musical
           and possessing a complete repertoire.... Mr.
           Pertile signed his contract the very day in which
           poor Caruso was in agony, although no one of us
           knew of it." 

           It was Pertile's misfortune to make his debut the
           evening of December 1, 1921 when Maria Jeritza
           unveiled her sensational Tosca for New York. In
           the furor over her singing "Vissi d'arte" while
           semi-prone, his reviews became footnotes to the
           soprano's. "His voice has a tendency toward
           whiteness, but in its fullest volume it is warmer
           and resonant. He sang his music, He did not
           shout it, but delivered it with free tones and
           smoothness." Pertile soon made a stronger
           impression of his own. In Cavalleria Rusticana
           he was described as "a tenor with the mentality
           of a baritone," and in Aida as "a man who gains
           with closer acquaintance. His voice, to be sure, is
           not a voice of great sensuous beauty or power.
           He uses it well, however, and brings intelligence
           to bear, not only on his singing but on his acting.
           A dignified, if not actually heroic Radames, he
           easily won the favor of the audience without
           indulging in any gesticulatory extravagances." In
           Louise with Farrar there was complete approval.
           "It was said for him that he first learned the role
           in Italian, under the French composer's
           supervision, and enacted it with success in Italy
           and Spain. On a week's notice, he mastered the
           French text recently, and a performance in
           Philadelphia a fortnight ago was in effect his only
           public rehearsal for Broadway. There need have
           been no apologies for an impersonation of so
           high merit as his last night, artistic throughout,
           refined in phrase, powerful at need, though the
           tall Italian is no spendthrift of voice. Under his
           conventional guise of Gallic bohemian, there was
           a warmth of Southern temperament, as if Julian
           [sic] were newly winner of a Prix de Rome." 

           Pertile's most successful and frequent part in
           New York was Dmitri, which had impact
           opposite the Boris of Feodor Chaliapin. "Of the
           many tenors who have appeared here as the false
           Dmitri, Mr. Pertile is the first who has given the
           part definite, and even strong, dramatic value.
           But Mr. Pertile is a rare actor among tenors. He
           also sang last evening to his marked advantage."
           When Pertile left in February he had sung his
           contracted fifteen performances, including two
           Sunday-night concerts. Though pleased with
           Pertile, Gatti in his anxiety over Caruso had
           overloaded his roster with tenors.* He waited
           until April to write in an unusually friendly
           manner. "Mio caro Pertile, Circumstances are
           almost always stronger than the will; so that I,
           who would have been very pleased to renew
           your contract for the coming season, find myself
           obliged to let you go. This is all the more difficult
           for me since you had a brilliant success and your
           artistic and personal merits earned for you the
           affection of the public, of colleagues and very
           much so that of the undersigned." 

           Pertile's career suffered not at all. At La Scala he
           became Toscanini's favorite tenor (after Caruso
           and long before Jan Peerce in New York),
           singing almost everything from Lucia and Il
           Trovatore to I Maestri Cantori (the Italian
           rendering of Die Meistersinger) under his
           direction; he created the title roles in the Nerones
           of Boito (in 1924) and Mascagni (in 1935).** In
           December of 1923, although Gatti had the tenors
           Miguel Fleta, Beniamino Gigli, Giacomo
           Lauri-Volpi, and Giovanni Martinelli on his
           roster, with some touch of regret he must have
           read this message from one of his Italian agents:
           "As you will read in the papers La Scala has
           become il teatro 'PERTILE'. All the operas are
           sung by him, the only tenor!" 

                                                   R T


 
 
 
 

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