Tancredi Pasero studied singing with the baritone Arturo Pessina in Turin and made his operatic stage debut in 1917 in that city’s Teatro Chiarella as the King / Aida (although he himself regarded his performance of Count Rodolfo / La sonnambula at the Teatro Eriteneo in Vicenza the following year as his true debut). He then sang in several Italian and Mediterranean theatres, including those of Bologna, Modena, Trieste, and Turin; appeared at the Teatro dal Verme, Milan in 1920; and at the Royal Opera House, Malta during the 1921–1922 season.
At Rome’s Teatro Costanzi, Pasero enjoyed great success in 1923, returning in 1924 to sing in the premiere of Bruno Barilli’s opera Emiral and appearing the same year at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. He returned there regularly until 1930, meanwhile making his debut at La Scala, Milan in 1926 as Philip II / Don Carlo with Toscanini conducting. His association with La Scala continued until 1951, his roles including the High Priest / La vestale (1933), Leporello / Don Giovanni (1934), the title part in Mosè in Egitto (Rossini) (1935), Count Walter / Luisa Miller (1937), Ramfis / Aida (1938), Sarastro / Die Zauberflöte and, late in his career, the title role in Don Pasquale (1950). Amongst the premieres at La Scala in which he participated were Giordano’s Il re (1929), Mascagni’s Nerone (1935), Refice’s Margherita da Cortona (1938) and Porrino’s Gli Orazi (1941).
Pasero first sang at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 1929 as Alvise / La Gioconda and remained with this company until 1933. His repertoire at the Met was varied, including Count Walter in the first American performances of Luisa Miller during 1929; Ashby / La fanciulla del West, Colline / La Bohème, Ferrando / Il trovatore and Ramfis (all 1929); Raimondo / Lucia di Lammermoor, Oroveso / Norma and Padre Guardiano / La forza del destino (all 1930); Tcherevik / Sorochintsy Fair, Walter / William Tell and Uin-Scî / L’oracolo (all 1931); Fiesco / Simon Boccanegra, Sparafucile / Rigoletto and Leporello (all 1932) and Archibaldo / L’amore dei tre re (1933). Pasero’s appearances at the Met tended to draw comparison with those of Ezio Pinza, who had a commanding presence there between 1927 and 1949.
Although Pasero sang just once at the Royal Opera House, London (as Padre Guardiano in 1931) he drew critical praise for his ‘impressive voice’. He appeared at the Paris Opera in 1935, after which, as with many other Italian singers at this time, his career was focused upon the major opera houses of his home country. Here he sang often at the Verona Arena (1933, 1935–1939, 1948, 1950) and at the Maggio Musicale, Florence: for instance in La vestale (1933); Nabucco and the premiere of Pizzetti’s Orsèolo (both 1935); and Semiramide (1940).
During 1937 Pasero appeared with the company of La Scala in Berlin and Munich; and guested in Amsterdam (1938), Berlin (1941), Zürich (1946) and Barcelona (1947–1948). In addition to those already mentioned, other parts which he sang with distinction were the title roles in Boris Godunov and Mefistofele, Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust, Gurnemanz / Parsifal and Wotan / Die Walküre. He retired from the stage in 1955 and devoted himself to teaching.
The possessor of a rich voice, used with great skill and musicality, and an unusually wide range, Pasero was able to sing parts ranging from Sarastro to Escamillo / Carmen. With Nazareno de Angelis retired and Pinza based in America, he became the leading bass of his generation active in Italy.
His very considerable art can be heard in several early complete opera recordings as well as on recordings of individual arias.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Singers, Naxos 8.558097-100).