As a maestro and the artistic director of Angels Vocal Art in Pasadena, California, Kristof Van Grysperre guides an organization that broadens opera awareness and provides training to the next generation of singers. Kristof Van Grysperre’s institution has its roots in master classes presented in Pasadena in 2006 by operatic tenor Carlo Bergonzi. His efforts led to the development of additional master classes in China and vocal competitions spanning 30 cities.

Bergonzi is recognized as one of the luminaries of postwar opera, and he was particularly known for his interpretations of opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. Rich in dramatic intensity, Bergonzi’s performances were imbued with originality in tone and phrasing, as well as deep traditions. Living for much of his life in the village of Busseto, where Verdi had also lived, he brought an authenticity to his performances that was unmatched.

Having spent part of World War II in a German prison camp, Bergonzi began his career as a baritone and sang in a variety of operatic roles before discovering his higher register in 1950 while warming up for a role in Madama Butterfly. Following three months of intensive voice practice, Bergonzi took on a number of Verdi tenor roles in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death. From that time on, he gained increasing acclaim for a golden voice that imparted a timeless elegance to every composition he sang. By the time he passed away in 2014 at age 90, Carlo Bergonzi represented a golden era of Italian opera.

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