In Clarence's Time - Pietro Zeni, the tenor sponsored by Bicknell

Skribita de Marcus Bicknell on .

pietrozeniI had never seen details of the singer whom Clarence sponsored. I stumbled across this article in by accident...

"Un giorno del 1888 lo studioso inglese Clarence Bicknell sente per caso il giovane cantare, mentre è impegnato nel cantiere di lavoro; colpito dalla bellezza della voce dello Zeni, Bicknell lo fa studiare, a proprie spese, da privatista a Milano ove si diploma a pieni voti presso il Conservatorio. Il giovane tenore Pietro Zeni debutta con successo alla Scala e inizia una brillante carriera che lo porterà a calcare i palcoscenici dei più importanti e celebri teatri d'Italia e all'estero, in particolare in Spagna e in America, con Caruso e grande come Caruso."

which I translate as...

"One day in 1888, the English scholar Clarence Bicknell overheard the young man singing, while engaged in the work site (for the tunnels of the Pisa-Genova-Ventimiglia railway); struck by the beauty of the Zeni's voice, Bicknell helped him with his expenses for private tuition in Milan  where he went on to graduate with honors from the Conservatory. The young tenor Peter Zeni made a successful debut at La Scala and started a brilliant career that led him to tread the boards of the most important and famous theatres in Italy and abroad, particularly in Spain and America, with Caruso - and as great as Caruso."

Zeni was 18 when discovered. Imagine him wielding a pickaxe at full song!!!   I thought of Zeni today because I came across his page in The Book of Guests at the Casa Fontanalba in Esperanto, the small illustrated album where Clarence writes a few words in Esperanto about the people (and dogs) in his life. Clarence's dedication for Pietro Zeni reads...

"Pietro Zeni de Bordighera, iris al Milano, kie li studis musikon, kaj poste dum multaj jaroj Kantis, Kiel tenoro, en la cefurboj Italaj, ankaw en Hispanujo, Portogalujo, Rusujo k.t.p. sed, post bonega sed tro mallonga kariero, pro malsano de la kordoj gorguj, li devigis forlasi siari profesion."

which translates as

"Pietro Zeni of Bordighera, went to Milan, where he studied music, and then for many years sang, as a tenor, in the Italian capitals, yet it also in Spain, Portugal, Russia and so on but, after a great but too short career, due to illness of the vocal chords, he was forced to leave his profession."


4th January 2017

Andrew Sly writes on Facebook where I posted this article...

Andrew Sly "Here is a "cleaned up" version of the Esperanto transcription: "Pietro Zeni de Bordighera, iris al Milano, kie li studis muzikon, kaj poste dum multaj jaroj kantis, kiel tenoro, en la ĉefurboj Italaj, ankaŭ en Hispanujo, Portugalujo, Rusujo k.t.p. sed, post bonega sed tro mallonga kariero, pro malsano de la kordoj gorĝaj, li devigis forlasi sian profesion.""

Clarence Bicknell Association
I replied...
Clarence Bicknell Association Andrew, thank you. The Esperanto words given by me in the posting of 3rd January were taken letter-for-letter from Clarence's hand-writing in his Book of Guests. So any errors are errors in Clarence's grasp of Esperanto. An imperfect science at the time? Or maybe Clarence was still learning.
Valerie Lester writes...
"Yes, I did know about Zeni and have quite a lot of information about him. He was actually a bricklayer, so I think he was more likely to have been wielding a trowel than a pickaxe!!! But I didn’t know he had problems with his vocal cords later on. So great that you have that Book of Guests and can read Espeanto!"
Marcus Bicknell 4th January 2017
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