|Year of Birth:||1922|
|Year of Death:||2012|
Francesco (Franco) Ventriglia (October 20, 1922 – November 28, 2012) was an opera singer who sang bass in every major European opera house during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. He returned to the U.S. in 1978, where he continued to perform at venues including Carnegie Hall, and traveled to perform in southeast Asia, until his retirement in 2001 at age 79.
Francesco Ventriglia was born on October 20, 1922, in Fairfield, Connecticut. He grew up on a vegetable farm and graduated from Roger Ludlowe High School in Fairfield in 1941. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving in the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in the South Pacific during World War II. After returning from the war, he was working at his brother's filling station in Easton, Connecticut when Mario Pagano, a maestro de Canto at the American Theatre Wing Professional School heard from one of Ventriglia's coworkers about his singing talent. Ventriglia passed an audition and went on to attend the school on the G.I. Bill, crossing paths with classmate Marlon Brando, among others.
Ventriglia worked as an inspector at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut and sang in local concerts. After attending a few of Ventriglia's concerts in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Igor Sikorsky, a music lover, granted Ventriglia permission to take one day off from work each week to continue his voice studies in New York City.
After Pagano's death, Ventriglia and his wife Jean boarded the ocean liner SS Constitution for Italy. On board, after singing Ol' Man River for a group in first class, he met a businessman who asked him to contact Toti Dal Monte, a great coloratura soprano who also taught voice in Rome. Ventriglia took singing lessons from Dal Monte and eventually made his operatic debut in Palermo, singing in the Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. He later sang with Luciano Pavarotti in La bohème and Rigoletto. He performed in Samson and Delilah at La Scala, a performance he considered the highlight of his career.