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Mario Ancona

Mario Ancona

Mario Ancona Collection

The baritone Mario Ancona was born in Livorno, Italy on February 28, 1860. After finishing a business career, he studied voice with Maestro Matteini in his native city, and later with Giuseppe Cima in Milan, making his debut as an amateur singer in the Concerto Maglioni in 1880. Ancona's earliest recorded opera appearance was in 1889 with the Triest opera company, singing the role of Scindia in Massenet's Le roi de Lahore. Shortly thereafter, he sang another Massenet opera, Le Cid, in Milan's La Scala (1890), and two years later created Silvio in Leoncavallo's Paglicacci.
For many years, Ancona appeared regularly at London's Covent Garden Opera, where he was held in very high esteem. He sang as a guest artist in Cairo, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Warsaw, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Chicago, Boston, and various cities in South America. From 1906 to 1908, he was engaged with the Manhattan Opera House, where he was particularly successful in his role as Don Giovanni. He was admired on stage for his elegant deportment, and his beautiful and expressive voice--particularly in the high register. His repertory included Verdi (Germont, Rigoletto, Amonasro, Iago and Don Carlos in Ernani), Puccini (Lescaut and Marcello), Mascagni (Alfio and David in L'amico Fritz), Mozart (Don Giovanni and Figaro), Wagner (Wolfram, Telrammund and Hans Sachs), and several French roles such as Nevers, Escamillo, and Valentin. After retiring in 1916, Ancona devoted himself to teaching voice. He died in Florence on February 23, 1931. 
The Mario Ancona collection (8 linear feet; 17 boxes) includes photographs, memorabilia, sound recordings, and miscellaneous documents related to the baritone's career and to the performing arts and artists around the turn of the 20th century. 


Jerry McBride
Head Librarian, Music Library
Head Librarian, Archive of Recorded Sound
(650) 725-1146