Italian baritone Riccardo Stracciari (1875-1955) in Conte di Luna's aria "Il balen del suo sorriso" from Act 2 of Verdi's Il Trovatore, recorded for Italian Fonotipia in 1909.
The following biographical profile comes from "Subito-cantabile: A Site for Collectors of Recordings of Great Singers of the Past" ("He was born near Bologna where his father was a well-known stone carver and sculptor. He only attended the Bologna Conservatory after receiving his diploma in engineering. He occasionally participated in diverse theatre and opera productions as a chorister. In 1899 he stepped in for Giuseppe Kaschmann at the last minute in a performance of Perosi's oratorio The Ressurection of Christ. After this he decided to take up a career in singing. He made his operatic début as Marcello in Puccini's La Bohčme. For the next few years, this role was his entire opera repertoire! Finally, he enlarged the list of his roles and gradually became a sought-after promising Italian baritone. He sang with increasing success outside of Italy (South America, Spain, Egypt). He was also a member of the opera houses at Lisbon and Genova. He sang for the first time at La Scala (Aida and La Wally) in 1905. In 1906 he appeared at the Met (Traviata with Sembrich and Caruso). He had also great success at Covent Garden where he was especially popular as Rigoletto, Amonasro, Lord Ashton, Rodrigo and Conte di Luna. He sang for six seasons in Russia and for nine seasons in South America. His début at the Chicago Opera house took place in 1917. Here he earned gratest success with his fiery characterization of Rossini's Figaro. He sang this role about 1000 times! He retired officially from the stage in 1936. However, he continued to appear in public (in full possession of his vocal faculties) until 1944. In his last years, he was active as a voice teacher. Boris Christoff is one of his best-known students.
He is a beautiful baritone voice, full of warmth and richness. The purity of his legato singing is a model, the fioriture are graceful and he has a velvety mezza voce. He sings in true 'Belcanto style'."
Watch videos with other singers performing Il balen del suo sorriso:
Il balen del suo sorriso D'una stella vince il raggio! Il fulgor del suo bel viso Novo infonde in me coraggio!... Ah! l'amor, l'amore ond'ardo Le favelli in mio favor! Sperda il sole d'un suo sguardo La tempesta del mio cor.
Odesi il rintocco de' sacri bronzi
Qual suono!... oh ciel...
FERRANDO La squilla Vicino il rito annunzia!
CONTE Ah! pria che giunga All'altar... si rapisca!...
FERRANDO Ah bada!
CONTE Taci!... Non odo... andate... di quei faggi all'ombra Celatevi... Ferrando e gli altri Seguaci si allontanano Ah! fra poco Mia diverrŕ... Tutto m'investe un foco!
Ansioso, guardingo osserva dalla parte donde deve giungere Leonora, mentre Ferrando e i Seguaci dicono sottovoce:
FERRANDO, SEGUACI Ardire!... Andiam... celiamoci Fra l'ombre... nel mister! Ardire!... Andiam!... silenzio! Si compia il suo voler.
English Libretto or Translation:
The flashing of her smile is brighter than a star's ray! The splendour of her fair face instils new courage in me. Ah, let the love that inflames me speak to her in my favour! Let the sun of her glance dispel the storm in my heart. Ah, let the love that inflames me, etc. A bell is heard. That sound! Oh heaven!
FERRANDO Its tolling announces the approaching rite.
COUNT Ah, before she reaches the altar, she shall be seized!
FERRANDO Take care!
COUNT Silence! I hear nothing! Go, and in the shade of those beeches, conceal yourselves. Ah, soon she'll become mine; a fire rages through me!
FERRANDO and RETAINERS Courage! let's go, and hide in the shadows, in mystery! Courage! Let's go! Silence! His bidding be done!