Rolando Panerai, the Italian baritone who often performed and recorded with Maria Callas, has died at the age of 95. Possessed of a distinctive timbre, the baritone was closely associated with the title role of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchiand the character Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, which he recorded twice for Karajan and once for Bernstein.
Born in Campi Bisenzio on October 17, 1924, Panerai pursued vocal training in Florence and Milan. He made his stage debut in Florence in 1946 as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, singing mostly in Naples over the next few years. His La Scala debut came in 1951 when he appeared as the High Priest in Samson et Dalila, a house at which he would appear regularly for the next 25 years. In 1954, Panerai appeared in a broadcast production of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Sivigliaunder the baton of Carlo Maria Giulini, marking the very first time an opera was shown on Italian television. Nearly five decades later he would perform in a live broadcast of La Traviatafrom Paris that was seen by audiences worldwide.
Panerai’s repertoire numbered more than 150 operas, but he was perhaps...