Vicente Sardinero

12.01.1937 - 9.02.2002


Vicente Sardinero, baritone singer.

The Catalan baritone Vicente Sardinero remained faithful to his native Barcelona through a career of nearly 30 years, while appearing in many of the great opera houses of Europe and America, including La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan in New York and the Colon in Buenos Aires. He made his name in the bel canto operas of Bellini and Donizetti, music for which his highly placed, flexible voice was ideally suited, but he also sang many Verdi and Puccini roles, including Rigoletto, Macbeth and Scarpia.

Sardinero studied at the Conservatory in Barcelona. After singing in Spanish zarzuelas and other operettas, he studied further with Vladimiro Badiali in Milan, winning first prize in the Verdi Contest at Busseto in 1966. The following year he sang Germont in La traviata at the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona and made his Milan début at La Scala, singing Enrico Ashton in Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Renata Scotto. In 1969, after singing King Alphonse in Donizetti's La Favorite at the Liceu, he went to the US, appearing in Hartford as Renato in Un ballo in maschera and at Pittsburgh as Rossini's Figaro.

He made his New York City Opera début as Tonio in Pagliacci in 1970, then sang Enrico Ashton again, this time with Beverly Sills as Lucia, in Philadelphia. The same year he made his first London appearance, in a concert performance of Roberto Devereux, Donizetti's version of the Elizabeth and Essex story, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Montserrat Caballé sang Elizabeth and Sardinero the relatively minor role of Nottingham. During the 1970s he and Caballé were to sing together many times in Barcelona: as Ernesto and Imogen in Bellini's Il pirata; as Marcello and Mimi in La Bohème; as Posa and Elisabeth in Don Carlos; as the Count di Vergy and Gemma in Donizetti's Gemma di Vergy.

During the same period he sang other roles at the Liceu, including Albert in Werther, Severus in Donizetti's Poliuto, Count di Luna in Il trovatore, Francesco in I due Foscari, Azzo in Donizetti's Parisina. In Vienna he sang Enrico Ashton at the Volksoper and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at the State Opera, while at Aix-en-Provence he appeared as Mozart's Figaro (1972) and again as Nottingham in Roberto Devereux with Caballé (1977). Sardinero also sang Malatesta in Don Pasquale at Chicago, Lescaut in Puccini's Manon Lescaut in Lisbon and Lescaut in Massenet's Manon with Caballé in the title role at Bilbao.

He made his Covent Garden (1976) and Metropolitan (1977) débuts as Marcello, a role that particularly suited him. Sometimes accused of appearing cold on stage, Sardinero was not overtly emotional, but conveyed his feelings perfectly well nevertheless, in roles such as Marcello, Germont, Enrico and Posa. In 1978 he returned to Covent Garden as Anckarstrom in the Swedish version of Un ballo in maschera and to La Scala as Count di Luna. During the 1980s Sardinero appeared in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Bologna, where he sang Valentin in Faust, and Parma, where he sang Verdi's Macbeth and Rigoletto.

In Barcelona his new roles included Cinna in Spontini's La Vestale, Gérard in Andrea Chénier, Scarpia in Tosca, and De Siriex in Giordano's Fedora, with Scotto in the title role and Placido Domingo as Count Loris. In January 1994, the Liceu burned down, and Sardinero made a final appearance later that year as Germont in Lisbon. Sardinero recorded many of his roles, including Enrico Ashton, Scarpia, Marcello, and Ernesto in Il pirata. The recordings demonstrate the beauty of his voice and the elegance of his style of singing, as well as his versatility.

Elizabeth Forbes

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