Music: The Great Basso

"I like to play parts," Ezio Pinza once confided to a friend. "It is something you have or you have not. If you have, it's easy."

For nearly 40 extraordinary years, Basso Pinza had it. Blessed with a brawny, 6-ft.-1-in. frame, a handsome, dignified face and a flexible, powerful bass voice, he ranged through 82 operatic roles, singing and acting them in a style that had his admirers reaching far back into opera's Golden Age for comparisons. When he left the Metropolitan Opera at 55 in 1948 to appear with Mary Martin in South Pacific,...

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