A Night at the Opera: Ezio Pinza, Claudia Pinza Bozzolla, and the Pittsburgh Connection
Join the Italian American Program for A Night at the Opera.
Discover the history of the Pinza family’s tremendous artistic impact on the field of opera in Pittsburgh from guest speaker and Pinza’s grandson Samuele Bozzolla.
Hear the story of Italian-born opera singer Ezio Pinza, who came to the United States in the 1920s to perform on Broadway, and his daughter, Argentine-born opera singer Claudia Pinza Bozzolla. Learn how the Bozzolla family came to Pittsburgh to seek medical assistance for their son, about Claudia’s influence as a voice teacher at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University, and her impact on opera in the region, which included bringing Pavarotti to perform in Pittsburgh three times.
Bozzolla will be joined by guest panelists Kevin Glavin and Anna Singer, opera singers who will comment on the Pinza family’s artistic legacy in Pittsburgh.
About the Pinza Family
Ezio Fortunato Pinza (May 18, 1892 – May 9, 1957) was an Italian opera singer. Pinza possessed a rich, smooth, and sonorous voice, with a flexibility unusual for a bass. He spent 22 seasons at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, appearing in more than 750 performances of 50 operas. At the San Francisco Opera, Pinza sang 26 roles during 20 seasons from 1927 to 1948. Pinza also sang to great acclaim at La Scala, Milan and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
After retiring from the Met in 1948, Pinza enjoyed a fresh career on Broadway in musical theatre, most notably in “South Pacific,” in which he created the role of Emile de Becque. His highly expressive performance of the hit song “Some Enchanted Evening” made Pinza a matinée idol and a national celebrity. In 1950, he received a Tony Award for best lead actor in a musical. He also appeared in several Hollywood films.
Claudia Pinza Bozzolla (July 27, 1925 – August 3, 2017) was an Argentine American operatic soprano, vocal coach, and voice teacher of Italian origin. As a singer she performed in operas throughout Italy and the United States, including appearances at La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, and the San Francisco Opera.
She taught voice for several decades at Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carlow University while serving on the board and vocal coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Opera. Several of her pupils have had successful performance careers of their own, including Metropolitan Opera singers Vivica Genaux and Audrey Nemzer, as well as Andrew Kurtz, founder of the Center City Opera Theater.
She also hosted a weekly radio program “Opera with Claudia” on WDUQ-FM radio. The only existing recording of the singer is from a November 1951 broadcast of The Bell Telephone Hour in which she performed the final Act of Gounod’s “Faust.”
In 1983 Claudia launched the inaugural season of EPCASO—the Ezio Pinza Council for American Singers of Opera—which continued for the next 35 years. The 5-week program in Italy, for aspiring opera singers, was modeled after the intense instruction Claudia herself received as a young singer in Italy: lessons and coaching—not once a week, but every day. Many EPCASO graduates have appeared in Pittsburgh Opera productions.
This program is presented by the History Center’s Italian American Program and will take place in the museum’s fifth floor Mueller Center. Tickets are $15 for the public, $10 for members, and $5 for students with valid ID. Please register in advance online.
For additional questions, please contact Melissa E. Marinaro, director of the Italian American Program, at email@example.com.
About Kevin Glavin
Born and raised in the North Hills section of Pittsburgh, Kevin Glavin is one of the most sought after Basso Buffos in the United States. Glavin studied under the late Claudia Pinza starting at the age of 18 and has since performed throughout the United States, Canada, and South America. Glavin has sung with major opera companies including L’Opéra de Montréal, the New York City Opera, and the Pittsburgh Opera. He is also a past winner of the Pavarotti Competition. His roles include Dr. Dulcamara in L’elisir D’amore, Benoit in La Boheme, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Bartolo in the Barber of Seville.
About Anna Singer
Anna Singer is well known to classical music lovers in Pittsburgh as the mid-day host for WQED FM, and she can be seen and heard frequently in operatic productions in Pittsburgh and throughout the country. Singer has performed as the lead in numerous operas including Tosca, Salome, Aida, Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Lohengrin, Die Walküre, and many more.
About Ulises Espaillat
Ulises Espaillat’s tenor voice has been described by the New York Times as a voice that “startles the listeners with its freshness and purity.” He began his studies after the Tenor Luciano Pavarotti awarded him the first place in the Ezio Pinza voice competition. He was also a winner in the Beniamino Gigli and the Ismaele Voltolini singing contest, where he was awarded the gold medal in Mantova, Italy. In the US he has performed with various Opera companies including the Pittsburgh Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Chautauqua Opera and Westchester Opera. Espaillat was a long-time voice student of Claudia Pinza, he studied Operatic Repertoire with Enza Ferrari and attended the Accademia Verdiana in Busseto, Italy with Carlo Bergonzi.