1926
Enzio Pinza, most famous basso of Metropolitan Opera House.


Fortunato Ezio Pinza (1892-1957) born in Rome, Italy the only son of seven children born to a poor family to survive, was blessed with a beautiful natural voice that commended him to the study of serious music at the Bologna Conservatory. After military service in the First World War, he resumed his operatic career in Rome, later singing at La Scala in Milan. In 1926 he was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera -one of the great names that director Giulio Gatti-Casazza introduced to this country. There, in revivals of Mozart's Don Giovanni (1929) and The Marriage of Figaro (1939) and in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (1939), he achieved conspicuous success. Following his divorce, Pinza married an American woman and was on the verge of becoming an American citizen. Unfortunately the process was not completed when the United States entered the Second World War, and he was officially designated an "enemy alien." As such he, together with tens of thousands of other Italians, would now experience a repugnant testing time. Shockingly in 1942 FBI personnel appeared at his home and arrested him on suspicion of subversive activities -charges that would have sent him to a detention camp except for the energetic defense of prominent supporters including New York City Mayor LaGuardia. Stripped of tie, belt and shoelaces he was held in detention for several weeks. The incident left him seriously depressed, however, he gradually not only resumed his operatic career but, in addition, became a matinee idol for his 1949 role in the musical "South Pacific." Indeed his booming rendition of "Some Enchanted Evening," the signature hit of the rave show rendered him a household word in the 1950s. Pinza also appeared in another musical, "Fanny," in some motion pictures and on his own radio program. Opera critics proclaim Pinza one of the best bass voices in 20th century opera. He certainly was a favorite making 850 appearances in New York's Metropolitan Opera House and on tour. Years after his death, he is still remembered for his performances as "Ramfis" and "Don Giovanni."






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