Carlo Albani (1872-1924) was born in Trieste to an Italian mother and a French father (the family name was actually Berquier). Following studies with Enrico Delle Sedie in Paris, Albani accepted a contract with the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, where he made his debut as Radames in 1901. He is probably best remembered for a bizarre occurrence which took place toward the end of 1907. After receiving a scathing review for his performance as Manrico in Il Trovatore at Oscar Hammerstein’s Manhattan Opera House, Albani skipped town and was charged in absentia with breach of contract. By the time deputies were able to track the tenor down, he was in the midst of another performance of Il Trovatore, this time with the San Carlo Opera in Boston. Following the first act, a constable arrested Albani and intended to haul him to the local lockup. After much arguing, a compromise was reached and the tenor was allowed to finish the performance with the policeman at his side on stage! Needless to, the performance was turned into a travesty…but San Carlo’s general manager DID post the tenor’s bail.
Although this unfortunate debacle brought an end to Albani’s U. S. career (with the exception of an already contracted performance in Philadelphia in 1908), the tenor was quite busy elsewhere, appearing in the provincial houses of Paris, London, Lisbon, Madrid, St. Petersburg, Rome, Milan, Verona, Bologna, Turin, Venice, Naples, Bari, Santiago, Caracas and San Jose (Costa Rica). In a career that stretched over two decades, Albani amassed a repertoire of more than forty roles including Radames in Aïda, Don Alvaro in La Forza del Destino, Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera, Canio in Pagliacci, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Arnoldo in Guglielmo Tell, Pollione in Norma, Don José in Carmen and the title roles in Ernani, Otello, Poliuto, Roméo et Juliette and Samson et Dalila. The tenor performed regularly into the 1920s, nearly until the time of his death, which occurred Rome in 1924 when he was only 52.
Carlo Albani left a legacy of nearly 100 phonograph recordings made for Pathé, Victor, Edison, Fonotipia, Odeon and others between 1907 and 1912. These discs and cylinders showcase a sturdy lirico-spinto instrument with good legato and a very strong top. These records also reveal some very imaginative and thoughtful phrasing and wonderfully nuanced interpretations. Although some modern listeners may object to the tenor’s rapid vibrato, his performances on disc make for some very pleasurable listening. In this recording, Albani sings "Deserto sulla terra" from the first act of Verdi's Il Trovatore. This was recorded in Philadelphia for Victor Records on October 22, 1907.