Stracciari, whose father was a stone-mason and sculptor, studied at the Bologna Conservatory for a short time after first obtaining a diploma in engineering. After this, from 1894 he took part in various theatrical productions as a chorister, most notably with the operetta company of Giovanni Gargano, while also continuing to study singing with Umberto Masetti in Bologna. He made his concert debut in 1898 in Florence, replacing Giuseppe Kaschmann at short notice in Lorenzo Perosi’s oratorio La risurrezione di Lazarro, followed shortly afterwards by his operatic debut as Marcello / La Bohème at the Teatro Duse in Bologna.
Thereafter Stracciari made solid progress: singing in the Italian provinces (for instance in the theatres of Livorno, Spezia, Rovigo and Trieste), taking part in the 1900–1901 season in Lisbon and returning there in 1903–1904, as well as singing in Egypt and Chile. He made his debut at La Scala, Milan in 1904 as Amonasro / Aida, and sang there regularly between 1904 and 1906, when he took part in The Queen of Spades and Alfano’s Risurrezione, and then between 1908 (in a notable production of Spontini’s La vestale) and 1909. He sang at the Royal Opera House, London during 1905, appearing as Rigoletto, Amonasro, Germont père / La traviata, and di Luna / Il trovatore.
From the end of 1906 to the spring of 1908 Stracciari was active at the Metropolitan Opera, New York: making his debut as Valentin / Faust and subsequently appearing as Enrico / Lucia di Lammermoor, Amonasro, Marcello, Alfio / Cavalleria rusticana, Tonio / Pagliacci, Sharpless / Madama Butterfly, Nelusko / L’Africaine, Rigoletto, Germont père, di Luna and a single performance as Geronte / Manon Lescaut. He was a frequent guest at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires following his debut in 1906, singing in the local (1913) premieres of Un ballo in maschera, Richard Strauss’s Feuersnot (in Italian) and Catalani’s Loreley. Between 1909 and 1911 he appeared at the Teatro Real, Madrid. He returned to La Scala in 1916 as Gérard / Andrea Chénier and Figaro / Il barbiere di Siviglia, and in 1923 as Napoléon / Madame Sans-Gêne (Giordano).
By now Stracciari’s career was based mainly in Italy, Spain and South America, although between 1917 and 1919 he sang with the Chicago Opera Association, where during his first season his Rigoletto made a good impression, as did his interpretations of Scarpia / Tosca, Don Carlo / Ernani and Germont père. These were followed during 1918–1919 by Enrico, Antonio / Linda di Chamounix (Donizetti), Figaro (Rossini), Tonio and Fabrizio / Crispino e la comare (Luigi Ricci). During 1920 he was engaged by the Italian businessman Adolfo Bracale to sing in Aida opposite Caruso at the Gran Teatro Nacional in Havana; as the curtain went up a bomb exploded in the auditorium causing considerable devastation. The following year, 1921, Stracciari toured the USA as a member of Antonio Scotti’s Opera Company. After appearances in Rome and Genoa in 1924, he sang with the San Francisco Opera during 1925, his Scarpia being described as displaying a ‘flinty hardness and Roman severity’.
From 1926 Stracciari began to devote himself to teaching, initially in Naples, where he took part in the premiere of Alfano’s L’ultimo Lord in 1930, and later in Milan and Rome. His pupils included Alexander Svéd, Enzo Mascherini, Paolo Silveri, Raffaele Arië, Boris Christoff and Anna di Stasio. He gave his final performance in 1944 at the Teatro Lirico, Milan as Germont père.
Stracciari recorded extensively between 1904 and 1930 and committed to disc in complete recordings two of his most notable roles (the Rossini Figaro and Rigoletto) for the Columbia Graphophone Company in Milan in 1929 and 1930 respectively. He stood alongside Pasquale Amato and Titta Ruffo as one of the outstanding baritones of his generation. In addition to the dramatic roles of Verdi, he excelled in works which allowed him to display his fine enunciation, legato singing, polished phrasing and musical sensibility: operas such as La favorita, Ernani and especially La traviata, in which he portrayed Germont père with great dramatic effect.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Singers, Naxos 8.558097-100).