Pasquale Amato studied singing at the Conservatory of Music in Naples, San Pietro a Majella, firstly with Beniamino Carelli, the father of the soprano Emma Carelli, and then with Vincenzo Lombardi, who taught the tenor Fernando de Lucia. He made his operatic stage début in 1900 as the elder Germont/La traviata at the Teatro Bellini in Naples, and also sang Lescaut there in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. He appeared in Milan at the Teatro del Verme and in Genoa in 1902, and during the following year sang in Monte Carlo, Leipzig, Nuremburg and Odessa. He sang at Covent Garden in 1904 during a guest season by the San Carlo Company of Naples, and also in Buenos Aires, Palermo and Rome. He made his début at La Scala, Milan, in 1907, making a significant impression upon Toscanini and Gatti-Casazza (then music director and general manager respectively) with his fine voice and artistic versatility. At La Scala he took part in the world première of Cilea’s Gloria (1907) and in the first Italian performances of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, singing Golaud. Other parts which he sang at La Scala included Barnaba/La Gioconda, Kurwenal/Tristan und Isolde, Scarpia/Tosca, and Gellner/La Wally.
In November of 1908 Amato made his début at the Metropolitan Opera, New York (where both Toscanini and Gatti-Casazza had subsequently moved), once again as Germont père, achieving great success. He sang there until 1921, his versatility, as at La Scala, resulting in him being given a heavy schedule that was ultimately to take its toll upon his voice. He took part in the world première of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West in 1910 as Jack Rance, opposite Caruso, and also in that opera’s Italian première in Rome during the following year; in Walter Damrosch’s Cyrano de Bergerac (1913, title rôle) and in Giordano’s Madame Sans-Gêne (1915, Napoleon); and in the first American performances of Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre re (1914, Manfredo), Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini (1916, Giovanni) and Mascagni’s Lodoletta (1918, Gianetto). In addition he sang in the traditional repertoire at the Metropolitan, giving 446 performances there in total. Amato’s repertoire was large: it encompassed the mainstream Italian works, as well as such examples of the French repertoire as Escamillo/Carmen and Valentin/Faust; and, of the German and Russian repertoire, such rôles as Kurwenal, Amfortas/Parsifal and Prince Igor. He was also active elsewhere: in 1913 he sang Germont père and Falstaff in the one hundredth anniversary celebrations of Verdi’s birth at Busseto. He appeared as a guest in Europe (Budapest, Brussels, Milan, Naples, Prague, Vienna) and South America (Buenos Aires, Havana, and Santiago de Chile).
By the time that Amato left the Metropolitan in 1921 his voice was no longer what it once had been, and during the 1920s he lived in Italy in poor health; but he returned to America, for which he felt an affinity, at the end of the decade. Here he sang in Pennsylvania in 1929, in Chicago between 1932 and 1935 (performing Scarpia opposite Maria Jeritza’s Tosca and the High Priest to Sigrid Onegin’s Dalila); and as Germont père once more, in 1933 at the head of a company he founded that performed at the New York Hippodrome, flourishing during 1933 and 1934. He took part in the concert given at the Metropolitan in 1932 to celebrate Gatti-Casazza’s twenty-five years as general manager; and in 1935 took up the post of Head of Studies in voice and opera at Louisiana State University. He also taught in New York in the latter years of his life.
Amato possessed one of the finest baritone voices of his generation, characterised by full and rich tone, excellent diction and potent dramatic insight. Despite singing numerous parts in the demanding verismo repertoire, he was still able to turn his voice effectively to the core Italian repertoire as well as to more arcane assignments. He recorded extensively, initially for Fonotipia in Europe (1907–1910); then in the USA for Victor (1911–1915), in many instances with his distinguished colleagues from the Metropolitan such as Caruso; for Columbia; and finally in 1924 for Homochord in Germany.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Singers).