The production team or the singers? In case of a dispute, managers today would probably opt in favor of the production team. But when Italian baritone Leo Nucci voices his opposition to a new Rigoletto production at the Staatsoper Hamburg in 1986, it was not he who was replaced; instead, the nearly-finished new production was exchanged for an older, more traditional one on loan from the Staatstheater Nuremberg. At the time Nucci was regarded as the foremost Rigoletto and Verdi interpreter, and consequently more irreplaceable than even an acclaimed director.
Still active today, the singer began his international career performing at Milan’s La Scala in the late 1970s. The artist’s repertoire ranges from Rossini to the verists, and Nucci is notable not only for his strong stage presence, but also for his vocal mastery and skill in the upper ranges – together with a manner of singing that impressively combines effectiveness with expressive depth and intensity. One of Nucci’s specialties is the great dramatic baritone roles of Giuseppe Verdi, with which he has celebrated triumphs in nearly all the world’s major opera centers.
© Michael Blees, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • Leo Nucci is born on April 16, 1942 in Castiglione dei Pepoli near Bologna

  • Gives his opera debut in 1967 in Spoleto – as Figaro in Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia

  • Wins wide acclaim in the same role at Milan’s La Scala in 1977, a success that launches his international career

  • Performances on numerous international opera stages, including the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden London, Zurich Opera, Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, and Metropolitan Opera in New York

  • Guest appearances at international festivals including the Salzburg and Bregenz festivals as well as the festivals in Verona and Orange

  • 1992 receives the Order of Merit Grande Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana for his artistic achievements

  • 1996 receives the title Kammersänger from the Vienna State Opera, where he is named an honorary member in 2004

  • Nucci has collaborated in live performances and studio recordings with such great conductors as Herbert von Karajan, Sir Georg Solti, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Nello Santi, Lorin Maazel, and Riccardo Chailly

  • He is married to the Italian soprano Adriana Anelli

Did you know?

  • Leo Nucci first trained as a locksmith, but also received voice lessons starting in 1957.

  • Gives his solo debut after winning a voice competition in 1967, but first joins the choir of Milan’s La Scala. He begins performing solo roles again starting in the mid-1970s.

  • 1979 gives his debut at the Vienna State Opera, 1980 at the Metropolitan Opera; he has presented fifteen roles in Vienna to date, nine of them in Verdi operas, while in New York he has been celebrated in sixteen roles, including ten Verdi characters.

  • He interpreted his 500th Rigoletto on April 4, 2014 on the stage of the Vienna State Opera; he has since made further appearances in this signature role, including one at Milan’s La Scala in 2016.

  • In addition to his appearances in major operas, Nucci has more recently presented aria concerts – with arrangements of opera highlights for chamber ensemble.

  • Serious dramatic roles dominate the singer’s repertoire, but he also interprets comic roles with great virility and contagious humor – particularly in Rossini’s Barbiere and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

  • Leo Nucci has often worked as a director, having staged such operas as Luisa Miller, L’amico Fritz, Simon Boccanegra, and L’elisir d’amore.