OLIVIERO DE FABRITIIS
de Fabritiis studied composition and conducting at the Rome Conservatory with Setaccioli and Refice, making his conducting debut at the Teatro Nazionale in Rome. He built up a career as a conductor with many of the numerous opera houses in Italy, and enjoyed notable successes at the Teatro Adriano in Rome and at Salerno. Between 1932 and 1943 he was artistic secretary of the Rome Opera House and as such he was a frequent conductor there. In 1938, with performances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor featuring Toti dal Monte and Beniamino Gigli, he inaugurated the summer seasons of opera at the Caracalla Baths in Rome that continue to this day. After World War II he maintained his peripatetic career, predominantly as a conductor of opera. In addition to the familiar works of the traditional operatic repertoire, of which he was an expert interpreter, de Fabritiis conducted the first performances of operas by Pizzetti, Rossellini and Zafred.
He also directed concerts throughout Europe, America and Japan. He made his debut in the USA in 1947, and in the United Kingdom at the Edinburgh Festival of 1963, conducting the San Carlo Opera Company of Naples in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur with Magda Olivero. Two years later de Fabritiis made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with a new production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, in which Tito Gobbi both directed and sang the title role. In 1971 he was appointed as artistic adviser to the Vienna Festival.
de Fabritiis’s formal recording career was entirely focused upon the world of opera. For the Italian branch of EMI he led three of the hugely successful complete recordings starring Gigli that were made in Rome both before and during World War II: Tosca (1938 ) with Maria Caniglia, Madama Butterfly (1939) with Toti dal Monte, and Andrea Chénier (1941) with Caniglia again. The continuing commercial vitality of these recordings attests to their enduring quality, due in no small part to de Fabritiis’s musical leadership. After the war he was seen less frequently in the studio, until he was selected by Decca to lead a brilliant performance of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, starring Giulietta Simionato, and a complete recording of Boito’s Mefistofele with Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballé and Nicolai Ghiaurov, made shortly before his death. While this representation may be small, his appearances on often short-lived releases featuring recordings of live performances are substantial. Among these recordings he may be heard conducting Aida with Maria Callas in Mexico City (1951), Un ballo in maschera with the legendary Leyla Gencer and Carlo Bergonzi (Bologna, 1961), an early performance in the revival of interest in Verdi’s Stiffelio (at Naples in 1973 with Mario del Monaco) and Il trovatore, with Franco Corelli and Mirella Parutto (Rome Opera Company in West Berlin, 1961). In all of these performances de Fabritiis shows himself to have been a true man of the theatre, with a strong sense of musical drama.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).