No 13    November 1992   page 12

Torricellan Artists

Nicola Nicolò, Baritone
His Life, His Voice.

By Walter Teti

Nicola Nicolò never became a professional opera singer, but he was always keen to express his powerful baritone voice. His “career” as a singer began quite by chance. It was in the 1950’s and as a builder he was working at Engineer Falcone’s yard, building the Council houses at Urrà Casa. Falcone’s wife, an ex-opera singer, hearing Nicolò singing at full pelt whilst he worked, fell in love with his voice. She immediately took him to meet the Maestro, Carlo Vitale, Director of the Bari Operatic Symphony Orchestra, as an interesting voice. But for Nicolò, no longer a young man, it was too late for a proper education better to mature his voice. Still with Falcone’s construction firm, Nicolò went to Rome where, thanks to Signora Falcone, he was able to study for two years. Then he went to Pescara, where the Falcone firm was contracted out, working to open a branch of La Standa[1]. Here a new opening also happened for Nicolò: he was introduced to La Standa and then he worked there for the next 35 years, whilst also cultivating his passion for Opera at the “Colombo” School, where he learned an operatic repertory of which he was very proud: The Barber of Seville, the prologue to I Pagliacci, the duet in the second act of La Traviata, Rigoletto and so many others. At Pescara, as a good old Alpinist[2], he founded the Alpinists’ Choir (A.N.A.)[3] directed by the Maestro Nicola Bizzari, which boasts a repertory of 15 songs, 4 works of sacred music and a lot of Abruzzan folk music. Today Nicolò is still one of the baritone soloists of the choir of Santa Cecilia at Pescara, directed by the Maestro Nicola Bizzari. What does he think about the Bellini competition? He cannot find the words to express his appreciation for this cultural initiative of an international level that has launched the village into the world of Opera. Nicola Nicolò is now 70 years old and last year he celebrated his golden wedding with Mariannina Teti; they have four children (Giuseppe, Domenico, Antonio and Anna). He has been a Town Counsellor at Pescara and for 45 years he has been an active supporter of the Pci[4]. In 1969 he took part in the Corrida di Corrado[5]and also in Enzo Tortora’s[6] television transmission “L’altra campana” (The Other Bell)[7] at which he gave greetings from Torricella, with a dedication to all those who had emigrated from the village, by singing the song “Amara terra mia”. Although many at Torricella know the sound of his voice, he has promised that he will give us a performance as soon as possible, hopefully together with the entire choir from Santa Cecilia at Pescara: we are eagerly waiting this event.


[1] La Standa – was a famous non-food large chain of retail Department Stores which operated throughout Italy for many decades. In the late 1990’s it went through a period of serious financial crisis. In 1998, its owner, Silvio Berlusconi, the well-known entrepreneur and politician, sold La Standa and its 167 retail outlets to the Coin group, based in Venice. Coin planned to convert 2/3 of the Standa stores into Oviesse (another chain they owned) and sell off the remaining 70 Standas plus its Milan headquarters – the Italian trade unions were up in arms at this loss of over 2000 jobs. In 2001 the German firm Rewe bid to take over all the La Standa stores. For further details see :-
1. Internationational Council of Shopping Centers
2. Uni Commerce Global Union
3. eironline

[2] Alpinist – The Italian Alpine Corps were formed in the 1870’s specifically to guard and defend Italy’s mountainous frontier zones. Their exploits in the First World War became very famous. Only really fit healthy young soldiers could enlist in these crack troops. Torricellans, living at 900 metres, made very suitable candidates and 70% of soldiers from Torricella, whether enlisting or entering compulsory military service, became Alpinists. (Nowadays being in the Army is entirely voluntary even in Italy but more Torricellans join Alpine troops than any other branch of the army.)
Most Italian Alpine Troops’ Headquarters are in the Friuli and Veneto regions but the Torricellan and indeed the Abruzzan Alpinists all belong to the same “brotherhood”; to further their sense of belonging, they use the same dialect, traditions and songs as their more northern colleagues who live closer to the Alps and the frontiers.
At Torricella there is a very active Old Alpinists section with many members; they hold a feast day every year (with wine and song of course); there is a local monument to the Abruzzan Alpinists and a few years ago they built their own small Church high up on Torricella’s mountainside.
See :- The Alpinists Church for the Black Feathers

[3] A.N.A. - (Associazione Nazionali Alpini) (the National Alpine troop Association)

[4] Pci - The Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI) or Italian Communist Party

[5] Corrida di Corrado - Corrado – famous Italian Radio and Television Presenter – real name Corrado Mantoni, he was born and died in Rome, 1924-1999.
His audiences were always gripped by his tactlessness but also his polite ironies; he was well-known amongst his colleagues for always avoiding controversies and rivalry; thus he aroused sympathy, admiration and respect both from the public and within the artistic world.
He is most widely associated with the Programme “La Corrida”(The Bullfight), for years a popular radio show, which then became a highly successful TV show - which gave amateurs the chance to risk everything in all sorts of trials - and in which he conversed so interestingly with the competitors. He first became famous in 1944 when he broadcast with Radio Naja, speaking to soldiers returning from the front.

[6] Enzo Tortora - born 1928 in Genoa, died 1988 in Milan – another famous Italian Radio and TV Presenter. This popular TV anchorman was falsely accused of cocaine trafficking by a “pentito” (in Italy as elsewhere, penitent criminals invent stories to obtain reductions of their own sentences!) Tortora was imprisoned for years before being cleared, and sadly, perhaps because of the emotional stress of his imprisonment, he developed cancer and died soon after being found innocent when the case was finally solved.
(see :-, and Wikipedia, and  for a biography in Italian Enzo Tortora)

[7] “L’altra campana” – was one of the many programs Tortora headed during his life.

Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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