An Italian baritone
, one of the great masters of the bel canto
style, and with a very long career with his voice still intact. He sang most of Puccini and Verdi, and a lot of Mozart. Much of his career was spent at the New York Metropolitan Opera
. He recorded prolifically, from the earliest days of sound recording, so his legato
voice is preserved in both heroic and buffo
Born in Rome on 25 December 1876, he studied at the Santa Cecilia Accademia from 1892, and débuted in Piacenza in 1897, singing Valentine in Gounod's Faust. He joined the La Scala company in 1903; and he appeared at at Covent Garden in 1907, 1910, and 1935.
De Luca went to New York in 1915, staying with the Met until 1935, and also sang with them in 1939 and 1940; altogether making over eight hundred appearances in a hundred operas. After a golden jubilee concert in 1947 he continued to teach at the Julliard School, until his death in New York on 26 August 1950.
He often sang with such great other stars as Rosa Ponselle, Claudia Muzio, Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, and Giovanni Martinelli.
He created a number of major roles: Colonel Sharpless, the friend of Pinkerton and Ciò-Ciò-San, in the première of Madama Butterfly on 17 February 1904, at La Scala. In 1910 he created Sancho Panza against Chaliapin's Quixote in Massenet's Don Quichotte. On 14 December 1918 he was Gianni Schicchi in the premiere of Puccini's one-act comic opera of that name.
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera