|Year of Birth:||Not entered yet.|
|Year of Death:||1976|
Francesco Merli (27 January 1887 – 12 December 1976) was an Italian opera singer, particularly associated with heavy roles such as Otello, Canio and Calaf. He ranks as one of the finest dramatic tenors of the inter-war period.
Francesco Merli was born Francesco Cova in Corsico (Milan), son of Luigi and Emilia Cova. and studied in Milan, with Carlo Negrini and Adelaide Borghi. In 1914, he won second prize at a singing competition in Parma, being edged out of first place by the great Beniamino Gigli. He made his debut at La Scala, Milan, in 1916, as Alvaro in Spontini's Fernand Cortez.
Merli would sing widely in Italy and South America during the next decade, and also toured Australia in 1928 with an opera company composed of leading La Scala singers and sponsored by Dame Nellie Melba (who also sang during that tour, in roles such as Mimi in La bohème, despite being 67 years old). The tour included Merli singing Calaf in the Australian premiere of Puccini's Turandot. He appeared regularly in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, from 1926 to 1930, where, among other things, he was the first Calaf to be heard in Great Britain. He made his Paris debut at the Palais Garnier in 1935, as Pollione in Norma. His only season at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City occurred in 1932. He made his debut at the Met on March 2 of that year, as Radames in Aida; but his performances there were not deemed a success due to the effects of poor health. Thereafter, La Scala became his operatic base and his career tailed off during World War II.