Giorgio Tozzi dies at 88

Opera singer appeared in 'South Pacific'

Giorgio Tozzi, the Metropolitan Opera star whose career also encompassed work in film, TV and legit theater, died of a heart attack May 30 in Bloomington, Ind. He was 88.

Born George John Tozzi in Chicago (and later rechristened by his record company), he was educated at his hometown’s DePaul U. and later studied on the G.I. Bill in Milan with Giulio Lorandi. Originally a baritone, he moved into bass roles, making his Met debut in 1955.

Praised for both his vocal and acting prowess, Tozzi took leading roles in operas by Mozart, Mussorgsky, Verdi, Puccini and Rossini. He ended his Met career in 1975.

Tozzi also essayed popular roles. He starred as planter Emile de Becque opposite Mary Martin in a touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and dubbed Ezio Pinza’s singing voice in Joshua Logan’s 1958 film version.

He took the role of King Melchior in the 1975 TV production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s yuletide operetta “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”

He also acted in the 1973 feature “Shamus,” the 1976 NBC miniseries “Captains and the Kings” and in series such as “The Odd Couple,” “Baretta” and “Kojak.”

Tozzi received a Tony Award nomination for his work as Tony Esposito in the 1979 Broadway revival of Frank Loesser’s musical “The Most Happy Fella.”

In later years, he taught at the Juilliard School and Indiana U.

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