Ben Heppner's Tosti CD
Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) was a composer, singer and accompanist who spent most of his productive years in London. In the three decades prior to World War I, salon repertoire was expected from the great singers and Tosti was one of the foremost composers for this genre whose songs were interpreted by the likes of Caruso. Ben Heppner's admiration for Tosti's L'alba sepera prompted his further exploration of Tosti songs and eventually led to this CD. Heppner was especially impressed with Tosti's Bel Canto orientation, the manifold vocal rewards in his songs and their textual and musical accessibility. Heppner's particular favorites, aside from L'alba separa include Io ti Siento and Lasciali dir!
Tosti rose from humble beginnings as the son of a cereal dealer to become a favorite of Queen Victoria, composing some four hundred songs in total. He was also one of the foremost voice teachers of his time. Following his move to London in 1880, he taught the stars of Covent Garden as well as students from the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Music. Thus was his reputation that he was appointed as singing teacher to the young children of Queen Victoria whose secret diaries reveal her admiration for Tosti.
Born in 1846 in the coastal town of Ortona, near Naples, Tosti's own instructors included the opera composer Saverio Mercadante. He was cathedral choirmaster in his hometown from 1866-1869, suffered a breakdown and began composing his first songs during his period of convalescence. In 1870 he moved to Rome and in 1875 he made his first trip to London, fell in love with the city and finally moved there five years later. In 1906, Tosti became a British citizen and was knighted two years later by Edward VII. In 1912 Tosti returned to Rome for good and remained there until his death in 1916. He was known for his charm and graciousness, something that also transfers to his Lieder.
Rutenberg studied with John Wustman, Geoffrey Parsons and Pierre Bernac. He has worked with many famous singers, among them Angelika Kirchschlaeger and Thomas Hampson. Currently he is visiting lecturer at the Stockholm Opera School in Sweden and also teaches master classes at the Chicago Lyric Opera, at Washington Opera, at the Royal Opera House in London and at the Royal College of Music.
Text - L'alba separa
Watch out for a forthcoming in-depth interview with Ben Heppner!