Please feel free to share your thoughts and recollections about this extraordinary artist.
Professor Tozzi was an inspiration to me as a young aspiring opera singer. I remember my first encounter with Tozzi as a naive, very green 18 year old auditioning for the IU School of Music. I remember, during my audition, seeing his enthusiastic face and his inviting smile that made everyone around him feel at ease. After I left I felt good about how I had performed however, I wasn’t sure if I could be admitted let alone succeed at a place like the IU School of Music. It was only until a few weeks later when I received an encouraging note from Professor Tozzi saying how enthused he was with my audition and suggesting that I might have strong career potential. He later invited me into his studio as a student and for the next two years I received instruction from a man who not only sang with some of the greatest names in opera but a teacher who had a deep and profound understanding of how music can impact others.
Professor Tozzi’s most identifiable quote was always, “After all is said and done, if a performing artist, or any artist for that matter, fails to communicate, he has not achieved the purpose of his vocation.” Tozzi not only communicated his warm, magnificent voice to audiences all over the world, he also conveyed a sense of wisdom, warmth and humility to his students and fellow colleagues that will most certainly be missed.
Yesterday, when I learned my friend Giorgio had passed away, I could not believe it. Besides being a great singer and artist, he was one of the most gentle men I have ever known. While at IU we shared many great moments exchanging jokes (many, dirty ones) and, after his retirement, we met several times at the supermarket. I used to call him at home once a month to chat and to let him know that he was in my thoughts.
Thank you my friend, for sharing those fifteen years at Indiana University. We will miss you.
I had had the great pleasure and privilege of seeing Giorgio Tozzi at least 100 times, mostly at the Met, and some other venues, in at least 15-20 different roles. He was a magnificent singer, and had a rich, warm voice that thrilled countless thousands. He brought great joy to all by his singing and wonderful personality. He shall be greatly missed. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
New York City
I just received and email from Eric Tozzi, Giorgio’s son telling that his father passed away on Monday. My love and prayers go out to the family. I met Giorgio in 1976 in San Francisco, CA. I was pastor of The Holy Spirit Center. Giorgio called my office to make an appointment to speak with with a pastor. When he arrived he introduced himself and shared his concern about needing prayer. At the close of our time in prayer, Giorgio and I joined hands and he accepted Christ into his life. His words “I feel so different.” Giorgio and I became good friends and over the years enjoyed many times of fellowship in his home with his wife Monte two children. The family started attending Church on the Way. Today, his two children are in full time Music Ministry in Vineyard Church. I count the years of our friendship as highlight in life and the times I sat watching Giorgio preform at the San Francisco Met Opera as a rich experience that will always be remembered. Love and prayers to the family. Sing on Giorgio! You got a choir of Angles to back you up.
Oh my, the world has lost a truley great human being, one who was equally at home talking with the great opera impressarios, the divas, the politicians or the food server at Wendy’s. What a remarkable man we have had the extreme honor to associate with in this lifetime. Giorgio will be greatly missed. All our love to Monte, Eric and Jennifer.
I spoke with Giorgio not too long ago and was instantly reminded of his great love for life in general. He was always a great example to me as an artist and as a man. He certainly knew how to get the job done and yet remain kind and gracious in all his dealings. I shall ever appreciate his teaching and his ability to explain things in such as way as they could be understood on many different levels, things that other teachers had taught me, but that I never really understood before. His wisdom and experience as a colleague was also invaluable.
Even though we moved from Indiana 8 years ago, I always knew that Giorgio was only a phone call or an email away. He was always there when I had questions or needed advice or just a friendly hello. I still hear his voice when I am teaching and say some of the things I always heard him say to me. He has blessed the lives of so many and helped to develope and shape the carreers of his students.
Thank you Giorgio. I love you. I miss you. The world is a better place because you were here.
Giorgio Tozzi was a personal friend and treasured colleague whose presence on this earth brought joy to thousands. His was an extraordinary life, and I was blessed and honored to share some small portion of his time amongst us. I will greatly miss him.
I don’t remember the exact performances we sang together, but I remember that fabulous voice and the extraordinary kindness he exuded. It was always a pleasure being in his company, especially during the rehearsals since that was the time where we were able to exchange thoughts. I just wanted to hear that glorious voice, whether singing or speaking. I often mention his name to my aspiring Bass singers, and I shall now have to inform them of the passing of another Opera Giant. Bravo Giorgio!
Reading tribute after tribute from all these friends and former colleagues of Giorgio Tozzi reminds me of his greatness as a person — the words kind, gentlemanly, warm used again and again. He was all those things as a person and as an artist. I met him after a Faust in L.A. as an aspiring opera director in the early 60’s and later had the honor to direct him in Barbiere in the 70’s. He was an exceptionally funny Basilio and a superb human being. Thank God for his extraordinary recorded legacy — his Figaro, his Doctor in Vanessa. My deep condolences to his family.
Giorgio, Monte and their very young children befriended my parents when they were neighbors in Montclair, New Jersey 35 years ago. My mother was so delighted to call such distinguished artists her friends. We had occasional contact with him after his move to Indiana, since we were then in Chicago and again sort of neighbors. He will be greatly missed. Our sincere condolences to Monte, Eric and Jennifer. May his memory be a blessing to you.
Carol Roberts Gerson
Rabbi Gary Gerson
I was really stunned to learn of Giorgio´s passing. Our friendship dates back many years ago when we first met in Rome Italy. From then on our wonderful contact continued. What a warm, kind and outgoing personality which he shared with close friends and his admiring fans.
Giorgio´s glorious voice, hearty laugh and warm personality will be missed. However, we who knew him so well will keep his being ever present with us.
When I was looking into graduate schools I was having a hard time deciding until my audition at IU. I had a voicemail message waiting for me from Professor Tozzi when I arrived home. We had an hour long conversation about IU, but mostly about singing. That personal attention, along with his obvious passion for singing,made my decision easy. He truly loved the art form, listening, teaching, singing or simply discussing it.
The opera world has lost a giant, as has the world at large. I have lost a mentor and dear friend. I have never known anyone who lived life as much as Professor Tozzi.
Giorgio Tozzi was one of the most beautiful artistic flowers to bloom out of the social desert created by two world wars and the Great Depression. He sang originally out of necessity to feed his parents and family, and became operatic legend. He was a true “American” artist, living in popular medium as comfortably as the grandest operatic repertoire. Due to an injury two years into his twenty year Met career, he needed to perceive pitch by “feel” rather than by it’s sound, making his considerable artistic accomplishments even more inconceivable.
There are few artists in whom one can hear as much pure humanity in the sound – he was a man born to communicate. To spend a moment with this man was to be forever changed, and he will be greatly missed by everyone who ever met him.
Giorgio loved music. He loved the human form, and depictions of it in photographs and painting. Giorgio hated liberalism with a passion, and loved to talk about it. He loved his mother and father. Giorgio loved his wife Monte deeply and rarely let his frustration over her own declining health show. He loved his children and grandchildren, and spoke of them with great pride.
Giorgio loved to write, and did so as cleverly as he spoke. Giorgio had a temper, which one saw rarely. Giorgio did great voices and accents, and could mimic a drunk perfectly. He loved gadgets – his home office was cluttered with computers he had grown tired of, surrounded by digital cameras. He loved American Musical Theater, and hated the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. His Met colleagues called him “Signor Legato”. Giorgio wasn’t a drinker, but loved a “Manhattan Cocktail with Canadian Club”, and “Screwdriver”. Giorgio had no uvula – it had been removed by a doctor in his youth, along with his tonsils…he didn’t know why. Giorgio hated cd reissues of his recordings. He preferred the mono version of his Le Nozze di Figaro. Giorgio hated getting old and wasn’t afraid to say it. Giorgio told the BEST stories and made even the corniest jokes funny.
Being a singer who knows Giorgio Tozzi meant that you knew you could do it – you knew you could do it because he did it, and you were just like him…and you knew this because he told you so every time he saw you. There was no more positive man towards a young singer than this man – you felt this positivity and the resulting confidence until you opened up one of his recordings and actually tried to imitate what he was able to do. His legato is still unparalleled, his diction was flawless, his sound was warm and uniquely human, and his stage acting was natural and deeply moving before it was a necessary goal of an operatic artist. He was an unusually humble man, particularly considering his amazing gifts.
For my part, today I lost something with no definition or descriptive words. Giorgio Tozzi is otherworldly. He lives on in every person he touched and continues to touch in his peerless recordings, the numerous artists who were able to receive his message in person as pupils, and in the hearts of those fortunate enough to witness his artistry in person.
Giorgio was a genuine gentleman, and I am proud to have been his friend.
Giorgio exemplified all the characteristics of goodness that we as human beings can hope to embody. I idolized him from my youth and was honored to know him as a friend.
Going to the opera wasn’t so easy in those earlier days in Wyoming and Utah. But I did see him in Tristan (Marke), Barber of Seville (Basilio), South Pacific and title role in Gianni Schicchi, La bohème (Colline) plus several concerts. As much as his voice stirred my emotion, knowing the “man” was even more memorable. He honored me in more ways than I can recount.
As an artist, I can’t imagine anyone who gave more than Giorgio. The act of “giving” as a performer was paramount in his art. In fact, it identified him in every facet of his life.
His voicemail left on Good Friday has been saved. I don’t expect to encounter a person of Giorgio’s personification in this life, and certainly look forward to our next encounter.
To Monte, Eric and Jennifer and their families, we extend our love and deepest sympathy. And we rejoice in the all the glorious memories we have of Giorgio.
Maestro Tozzi directed my operatic debut at IU. After that, he became a mentor and a role model to me. i will always remember him as a gentle man always with an encouraging word and his quick wit.
Thank you maestro,
Mr. Tozzi was a man that went in new directions and made a pioneering path for us to follow. His influence in my life is represented everyday as I continue to follow those paths that he laid down for us to discover and reap the rewards he established. To me he broke down all the walls with his gifted voice that sang everything well; opera, music theatre, movie, TV, and contemporary. I think he knew God had blessed him and that his faith led him to go were no one had gone and so well. He set standards that not only he taught us but lived by that example everyday. Since I first worked with as a director than a student and fellow singer, I am very thankful that I feel he gave me everything he had with no reserve. His unconditional love was the light that we were all moved by.
I send prayers to the family, friends, and strangers that will celebrate his life on June 4th. I will not be able to be there because I will be producing and singing in a concert for the Asheville Lyric Opera. We have decided to dedicate the entire concert to Mr. Tozzi and along with fellow IU alumni; Lisa Williamson, Dan Cole, and Amanda Gardner-Porter, we are honoring him in song, story, and silence of prayer. Since many of his students have been with our company will be living out his gift of music in this concert and the productions we will continue to present in the true character and standard he gave us so unselfishly.
With love and may God be praised for Tozzi’s new home.
Brilliant singer, teacher, humanitarian, husband, father, raconteur, and wit; such was Giorgio Tozzi. As a great story teller, I am reminded of this actual statement and response, which was viewed by Giorgio on a men’s room stall in the San Francisco Opera War Memorial many years, ago. Two years ago, he with his perfect diction shared it with me, and I quote: “On one of the stall walls at the War Memorial was written this statement.” ‘My mother made me a gay.’ (pause) “Below it was written this response.” (pause and smile) ‘If I gave her some yarn, would she make me one?’ (basso chuckle from Giorgio)
I continue to miss his random appearances at my studio door for some honest chat about singing decency and the deliverance of a good joke.
My near brush with Giorgio Tozzi came in 1990 when I learned that he was to the director of Il barbiere di Siviglia. It was going to be my first Figaro and I couldn’t believe my good fortune! Not only was I going to meet the famous basso who had sung Don Basilio all over the world, but I was going to actually work with him. However, at the last minute I found out that there was going to be a change and Maestro Tozzi would be replaced by another stage director. ” Who could they possibly get to replace this man? No one. “, I then thought. And no one ever will ….
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who sent love, condolences, and rememberances for my wonderful father. I am heartbroken that I will never hear that beautiful, symphonic voice over the phone again, or feel those big, warm bear hugs of his. I do however, have a peace that surpasses all understanding, knowing where he is now, and Whom he is with. I know I will be reunited with him one day, and when that day comes, we will never need to say goodbye again. I love you Daddy, Infinity x Infinity.
Can’t add much more than has already been said about Giorgio Tozzi. A great singing artist, a great voice teacher, a great person and my best friend.
Roger A. Havranek
Professor Emeritus (Voice), former Chairman of the Voice department
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
The one responsible for bringing Giorgio Tozzi to I.U. and Bloomington Indiana some 20 years ago
It’s hard to say if Giorgio was a simple complicated man or a complicated simple man– He was a “mensch” and a maestro! He definitely had the outlook and attitude that made him a perfect Hans Sachs. His influence as a teacher and a mentor will be with me forever. When I’m singing, I’m listening to the GPS that he programmed. And when I’m teaching, I often find myself saying “Giorgio always said…” For the past five years I’ve taught in the summer at the Bel Canto Institute in Florence. It’s always fun to play examples of great singers that “the kids” don’t know. It’s a discovery for them. When I play examples of Giorgio for students who like to sound ‘older’ than they are, I recall Giorgio saying “The brighter I sang the more people told me my voice was rich and dark.” His lineage was really bel canto. I had such fun reporting back to him after he sent me to sing for a friend of his in Milano. I had the pleasure of being in several productions that he directed– Rigoletto, La Juive, Cavalaria. I remember kibitzing with Giorgio and Birgit Nilsson after a master class performance. And there were oh so many great stories, and laughter. I remember fondly an evening in our home during the holidays with Irina and Jim Gibbons and the Tozzis and Christmas carols on steroids! I cherish many an after lesson informal conversation with Giorgio and Monte in Malibu. If we didn’t solve the problems of the world we at least shared the outrage at some of them and the humor in the rest.
I think God for the gift of Giorgio Tozzi. His voice was incredible. When I heard of his death, I played his recording of the Verdi Requiem and tears flowed. These were tears of gratitude for the gift of Giorgio Tozzi. My heart goes out to Monte and Eric and Jennifer. With all the riches in his life– nothing brought him greater joy than Monte and his kids. Rest in peace, Maestro! And, thank you….
In 1993 or ’04) I was fortunate to be directed by Maestro Tozzi in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, with the Charleston (WV) Symphony. I sang Goro the marriage broker. The thrilling and moving Cio Cio San was Marianna Christos, whom we lost too early in life in ’06. Rico Serbo, one of the kindest people in the business, was a lyrical B. F. Pinkerton. All the actors were inspired by working with Giorgio.
I’ll relate a master stroke of his directing.
Marianna was very good with the child Trouble, because—she told me–this was her first Butterfly since becoming a mother herself in 1990. After Cio Cio San sang the big 3rd Act aria “Tu, tu..”, bidding farewell to her child, Giorgio had Cio Cio San send Trouble off to play in the beautiful garden next to the house. After he was out of sight, she prepared for the suicide, which was exquisite in its horror. Cio Cio San fell over dead, face down.
When the music changed, the child suddenly walked back onto the scene, entering the house, & kneeling by the still form of his mother. He shook her body once, then again. Pinkerton’s cries heard off stage. Trouble lay his arms and shoulders on his mother’s body.
Curtain! Everyone in tears. When expressing our deep feelings to Giorgio, he replied self-effacingly: Thanks! it’s cheap, but effective.
He was thrilling singer and an amazing actor! The films he made–especially “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”–prove it!
And he brought to the sometimes sordid, cruel world of opera a nobility, a compassion, a lovingkindness, that is too often absent today.
My deepest sympathy to his family and his students.
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