Leo Riemens’ assessment: “Without a doubt Danise ranks among the best Italian baritones of his generation.

Giuseppe Danise (1883-1963)

Promesse de mon avenir
Le Roi de Lahore by Jules Massenet

In a generation which boasted so many great Italian baritones, Giuseppe Danise was among the most important ones, even though today he is undeservedly underrated. (Leo Riemens) Born in Naples, he studied there with Luigi Colonnesi and Abramo Petillo. He made his debut in 1906 at Teatro Bellini as Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana and over the next decade established himself as one of the leading Italian baritones.

On 17 November, 1920 he made his Met debut as Amanasro in Aïda, (with Destinn, Matzenauer and Martinelli) and remained at the Met for 12 years, sharing most of the big baritone roles with De Luca, Scotti, Basiola, Ruffo and Tibbett. In his first season, one critic wrote of his portrayal of Carlo Gerard in the premiere of Andrea Chenier that he “sang like a true artist and acted like a real man.” During this period Danise remained in the US, singing at the Met during the winter season and at Ravinia in Chicago during the summer.

He bade farewell to the Met on 16 January 1932 as Count di Luna in Il Trovatore and returned to Italy, where, although he had been almost forgotten, he was immediately engaged to sing major roles at La Scala. For the next 13 years he performed at the major houses in Italy with a few essays to Rio de Janiero. After the war he returned to the US and settled in New York. He married Bidú Sayão in 1947 and dedicated himself to the management of her career. He also taught singing in New York, and one of his most famous students was Regina Resnick.

Danise recorded for Brunswick, a company that lacked Victor’s commercial commitment to the classics (especially opera singing), and this is likely a major reason for his not being better known today. Based on those few recordings, however, I have to agree with Leo Riemens’ assessment: “Without a doubt Danise ranks among the best Italian baritones of his generation: he combined the lyricism of De Luca and the dramatic temperament of Scotti with Stracciari’s sonority.”