Amadeo Zambon (1934-2000) was an Italian tenor in the mold of Mario Del Monaco. This no surprise as he was taught by Mario’s brother Marcello Del Monaco. Marcello, in his turn, was taught by Arturo Melocchi who also taught Mario. Melocchi was known for his advocacy of the ‘lowered larynx’ method of singing which was credited with producing the stentorian vocal production that made Mario famous.
Zambon had a creditable career, but not the one his obvious gifts would seem to have merited. He sang mainly in second tier houses. He made a solitary appearance at the Met in 1978 as Manrico in Il Trovatore; he substituted for an ill Giorgio Merighi. He didn’t get a very good review from the New York Times. He sang Aida in Dallas, but as far as I know never sang at La Scala; but their online archives are buggy, so I can’t be sure. He was in the 1969 New York concert performance of Bellini’s La Straniera that featured Montserrat Caballe. He did appear a number of times at the San Carlo in Naples. For many years he was the leading tenor at the Istanbul Opera where he sang roles in Turkish. He made no studio recordings. All the documents of his singing were made in performance, often by audience members with smuggled tape recorders. Accordingly, the sound quality varies a lot. I’ve picked the recording that show his voice to its best effect and which have acceptable audio. Zambon sang Otello, but I couldn’t find any recordings from that opera that had minimally acceptable sound.
As you will hear, Zambon had a powerful spinto or even dramatic tenor. Subtlety was not his forte – forte and more was. He could really sing very loud. His high notes had squillo and he wasn’t afraid to hold on to them like a bad habit. On the basis of the following recordings, this is a voice that seems in the same league as that of Mario del Monaco. Why he had far less success and recognition is not clear. I think if a voice like this appeared today that it would be in demand at all of the great opera houses.
I’ll start with Celeste Aida recorded in 1969. Forget about pp and morrendo for the final B-flat. It’s full steam ahead. A tempio io giungo from the second act of Bellini’s La Straniera is from the 1969 concert performance of the opera. The baritone is Vicente Sardinero. This singing is more con belto than bel canto, but it’s effective.
Tu qui Santuzza from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana was recorded in 1971. The soprano was Leyla Gencer (1928-2008). The Turkish singer had a major career everywhere save at the Met. Addio alla madre from the same opera is from a 1976 performance in Vienna.
Calaf in Puccini’s Turandot was a regular part of Zambon’s repertoire. Non piangere Liu and the conclusion of Act 1 is from 1980 (I think he’s still holding the final ‘Turandot’), while Nessun dorma is from a 1977 performance. He sang in more than one production of La Wally. Quando a solden occurs near the end of the opera just before the fatal avalanche carries the tenor away. Zambon’s singing here (1975) is like an intercontinental ballistic missile – stunning.
Vesti la giubba is from 1978. The tenor’s breath control extraordinary. Ah si ben mio and Di quella pira are from 1979. The aria is belted out. There’s not even an attempt at a trill. The stretta is exciting with a thrilling climactic high note – a B not a C.
The last two numbers are from relatively late in Zambon’s career -both from 1984. The Improvviso from Giordano’s Andrea Chenier and No no pazzo son from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. In the Puccini Zambon imitates Gigli’s tasteless insertion of a gratuitous high note just before the scene’s close. But the audience likes it.
Just for fun here’s the tenor’s record setting Vittoria vittoria from the second act of a 1971 Tosca. The final note can still be heard in the Apennines. So if you like your tenors forceful, loud, and with rocket high notes, Zambon was your man.