Tamagno at the Borgo

The international career of a great Nineteenth-Century tenor

Some of the costumes belonged to Tamagno in the exposition at the Rocca del Borgo Medievale, photo by Ramella&GianneseFrancesco Tamagno was born in Torino, in an old house on the Borgo Dora plain, on 26 December 1850. He began his career as a tenor in the theatre of his city, the Regio, first in the chorus, and, beginning in the 1870s, as a soloist. His exceptional gifts amazed the impresarios of the period, and within a few years, Tamagno was treading the boards of some of the most important theatres in the world. He died on 31 August 1905 at his splendid villa in Varese, and was laid to rest in the monumental mausoleum of the General Cemetery in Torino, at the request of his beloved daughter Margherita.

Tamagno’s career and his masterly interpretations of Otello (in which he was the first interpreter), Il Trovatore, Aida, A Masked Ball, Ernani, William Tell and Don Carlo, together with many others of a glorious past, are attested to by the beautiful costumes displayed in the exhibition. All of exquisite sartorial workmanship, they are completed with more than 150 rich accessories including swords, helmets, hats, boots and shoes, crowns, necklaces and bracelets, metallic armour, diadems, breast plates, spurs, bags and belts, all finely worked by hand with embroidery, embossing, coloured stones, incisions and other refinements of nineteenth-century handicrafts. Objects that bear witness to the distinction of an artist of international renown, who had at his disposal a personal wardrobe for every role he interpreted.

The dates of the debuts of numerous characters and of the cities that welcomed Tamagno demonstrate the incredible career of this great artist, who, starting from Teatro Regio, : Milan, Barcellona, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York, London, San Petersburg, Lisbon passed through the most famous theatres in the world, Venice, Madrid, Rome, Montevideo, Mexico City, Monte Carlo, Berlin, Vienna and many others. However, he never disdained a few days of rest in his Torino, alternating concerts and recitals in theatres, clubs and salons, always for generous charity, with some liberty in the inns of Borgo Dora and Porta Palazzo with old childhood friends.