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Mario Basiola (12 July 1892 – 3 January 1965) was an Italian operatic baritone.
Mario Basiola was born in Annicco in the province of Cremona to Alessandro, an artisan basketweaver, and Marta Milanesi. He spent his youth mostly working in the fields, never receiving a proper school education. He began singing in church, but military service took him to Rome, where he remained as a soldier during World War I.
There he participated in a contest to enter the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and out of sixty competitors, he was one of five chosen. He was placed with baritone Antonio Cotogni, one of the greatest representatives of the mid-to-late-19th century Italian vocal school. He studied Cotogni from June 1915 to Cotogni's death in 1918, becoming one of his favorite students.
His study with Cotogni was crucial in his acquiring a technique and style that allowed him to portray the situations in the verismo literature without compromising his “vocal organization.” Basiola at times denounced the era in which he worked (especially in certain interpretive tastes), and he did not display the tendency toward sensational and boisterous vocalism as much as some of his contemporaries. Instead he maintained the capacity to deal with singing (especially in the Verdi literature) with a correctness and measure, with a malleability of timbre, and with a sureness in the upper voice that made him “one of the few baritones of his generation capable of representing the true traditional Italian school.” This training period was very profitable for Basiola but also very difficult; when he was expelled from the Conservatory for “insufficient voice” caused by a bout of physical wasting, Cotogni came to his aid again. Initially, Basiola's voice was not well defined because of its "amphibious" color that lay somewhere between tenor and baritone. When it settled into its high baritone, the young singer learned his roles “note for note, breath for breath,... gesture for gesture from his revered teacher,” basing everything on Cotogni's principle of intentionality (itself fundamental in 19th century vocal schooling): in order to emit a good and correct sound, the singer should first imagine it, hear it within himself, and make every effort to realize this idealized sound with his own voice, thus avoiding the sound from being introduced into cavities that diminish or exclude the fundamental harmonics. In his first performances at Santa Cecilia, he sang the duets from La forza del destino and Don Carlo with tenor Giacomo Lauri-Volpi. In 1916 followed his first wartime benefit concerts in and around Rome, in which he sang arias from Massenet's Hérodiade, Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles, Mozart's Don Giovanni, etc. in the presence of Cotogni, who praised his student enthusiastically.