Open for research; material must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use. Contact the Archive for assistance.
The Mario Ancona collection was created by his son Giacomo Ancona. It was mainly organized in scrapbooks, some bound, others with loose leaves boxed together. The materials gathered range from as early as 1792 with an Ancona family document, to as late as the 1970s with Giacomo Ancona₂s correspondence. The primary languages represented are Italian and English. Of particular interest are the three oversize portfolios entitled 1. Mario Ancona, 2. Musical Artists and 3. Royalty, Composers, Conductors, Comedians, Virtuosi, Famous People, and Students which contain photographs and documents mounted on poster board. The selection of photographs ranges from autographed portraits of opera singers and composers to members of royalty. Further items include original art work, concert and opera announcements, and honorary documents. Beyond the scrapbooks and portfolios are two volumes of autographed vocal scores entitled Romanze; opera publications; discographies and musical recordings which include 5 reel to reel tapes, 19 non-commercial discs, 17 commercial discs and 2 damaged cylinders. Filed separately is the Giacomo Ancona correspondence documenting the searches for materials pertaining to his father.
The baritone Mario Ancona was born in Livorno, Italy on February 28, 1860. After finishing a business career he studied voice with Maestro Matteini in his native city, and later with Giuseppe Cima in Milan. He made his debut as an amateur singer in the Concerto Maglioni, in 1880. Ancona's earliest recorded opera appearance was in 1889 with the Triest opera company, singing the role of Scindia in Massenet's Le Roi de Lahore. Shortly after he sang another Massenet opera, Le Cid, in Milan's La Scala (1890), and two years later he created Silvio in Leoncavallo's Paglicacci. For many years he appeared as a regular artist at London's Covent Garden Opera where he was held in very high esteem. He sang as a guest artist in Cairo, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Warsaw, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Chicago, Boston and various cities in South America. From 1906-08 he was engaged with the Manhattan Opera House where he was particularly successful in his role of Don Giovanni. He was much admired on stage for his elegant deportment, and his beautiful and expressive voice, particularly in the high register. His repertory included Verdi (Germont, Rigoletto, Amonasro, Iago and Don Carlos in Ernani), Puccini (Lescaut and Marcello), Mascagni (Alfio and David in L'amico Fritz), Mozart (Don Giovanni and Figaro), Wagner (Wolfram, Telrammund and Hans Sachs), and several French roles such as Nevers, Escamillo and Valentin. After retiring in 1916 Mario Ancona devoted himself to teaching voice. He died in Florence on February 23, 1931.