Giorgio Tozzi

The Chicago-born bass Giorgio (originally called George) Tozzi (b. 1923) began his vocal studies at the age of thirteen. As a biology student at De Paul University, he also continued instruction with Rosa Raisa, Giacomo Rimini and John Dagget Howell. He made his début in the baritone rôle of Tarquinius in the Broadway première of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia in December 1948. The following year he appeared in London in the musical show Tough at the Top. He then went to Milan to study with Giulio Lorandi, moving from baritone to bass before making his Italian début as Rodolfo in La Sonnambula at the Teatro Nuovo, Milan. He sang Stromminger in Catalani’s La Wally at La Scala in 1953 before making his first Metropolitan appearance as Alvise in La Gioconda in March 1955. He would sing at this house until 1975 by which time he had given almost 400 performances of 37 rôles: these included Ramfis, Pimen, Boris, Philip II, Daland, Pogner, Hans Sachs and Rocco. Tozzi created the part of the Doctor in Barber’s Vanessa in 1958, later repeating his interpretation at the Salzburg Festival. He possessed an imposing stage presence and conveyed warmth and intelligence in his characterisations. From 1991 he has taught at the Indiana School of Music in Bloomington. His many recordings included Handel’s Messiah with Beecham.