Music: Basso Buffo

Manhattan has seen many of them but last week it recognized the first good one in a long time. Nearly every classic Italian comic opera has a basso buffo, a comic bass. He wears a false nose, false belly, or both, and is not expected to have much of a voice. Fourteen years ago, when Arturo Toscanini conducted Milan's great La Scala opera, he asked one of his young bassos, Salvatore Baccaloni, to specialize in buffo roles, so that La Scala need not rely on rickety-voiced oldsters.

Chicago and San Francisco have known and appreciated Basso Baccaloni, but not until last month...

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