FRANCI, stirpe canora  by Maurizio Tiberi

Franci book cover

TimaClub edition 2017, 387 pp   30 Euro (+ mail)
To order the book send a mail to the author at or visit

Click here for our youtube tribute to the baritone

Click here for an interview with Franci in 1985 (Italian only)

Benvenuto Franci (1891-1985) studied singing at the Academia Santa Cecilia in Rome with Antonio Cotogni and Enrico Rosati. After several concerts his stage debut took place on 26 December 1917 singing Giannetto in Mascagni’s Lodoletta. Appearances all over Italy followed and after three years he was singing internationally with appearances in Lisbon, Madrid , Covent Garden, Paris, Berlin, Chili, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo etc. From the thirties his career was mainly an Italian one. His two children became musicians as well. His daughter Marcella was a beautiful soprano and his son Carlo (born 1925) became of course the well-known conductor and composer. His daughter Francesca (b.1962) is another opera singer. There was also a tenor Tommaso Franci (1885-1965) - brother of the baritone- who recorded several arias for Phonotype and grammofono.

Franci belongs that group of legendary baritones of the 20-ies and 30-ies of the previous century ranging from Granforte, Galeffi, Formicchi, Inghlilleri to Urbano. Herman Klein of the Gramophone remembered Franci “as the most powerful baritone on stage right now”. Franci’s baritone – esteemed by Toscanini who used him frequently during his Scala reign – was an opulently voiced instrument with an easy production, an extended range and a heroic ring. It also had that glorious vibrant quality so typical of the baritone voice of that period. Gobbi who sang along Franci during his student days in Rome said about Franci’s Schicci (Gobbi sang Betto) : “I revelled in the tremendous power of his characterization, the sonority of the middle and lower notes, the marvelous colouring of the voice, the inborn shrewdness of the Tuscan accent, the heavy step with which he made his bold entrance…” 

Maurizio Tiberi achieved a miracle in restoring the Franci saga. Every scion of the family gets an extremely well-researched biography illustrated with numerous rare photos provided by Tiberi and his collector friends.. Though the emphasis lies on the legendary baritone every member of the family is blessed by Tiberi with a detailed chronology containing reviews and various annotations. Moreover Tiberi faithful to his excellent reputation also includes discographies (78’s, Lp, CD and DVD!!) and a role survey. There’s also an index of every singer mentioned in the chronologies and a general index of the names included in the text.
This state-of-the-art opus also features an extended interview with Carlo Franci whose memories and anecdotes alone make fascinating reading.

Our late collaborator Luciano Di Cave (1926- 2016) provided an essay with his memories of Franci in the theatre and a discussion of his recordings.  Di Cave was a long-time friend of the author and Tiberi not only dedicated this wonderful publication to Luciano but also includes a two page memory of his late friend.

Rudi van den Bulck, December 2017


Tiberi’s previous biography treasures of Carlo BUTI, Giacomo LAURI-VOLPI (click here), Giovanni MARTINELLI and Gianna PEDERZINI (click here) are all still available at :
or for European readers at :