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Who Was Antonio Paoli?

Disfrute en su totalidad este folleto diseñado por Verónica I. Prats sobre la vida y época de Antonio Paoli deslizando cada página hacia arriba con el puntero del ratón

Notas para el folleto

Pág. 10: Manuel Paoli Marcano, su esposa Elisa Abril y su hija Blanca Paoli.

Pág. 1, 7 y 14: Antonio Paoli, en traje de calle, 1906.

Pág. 8: Dibujo de Amalia Paoli por Walter Torres, 2005.

Pág. 17: Sala de Lectura Dr. Fernando Padilla Lugo.

Pág. 23: Dibujo digital de la Casa Paoli, 2009: Luis M. Iriarte, QEPD.

Pag. 27 Cartel digital  diseñado por Rafael Rivera Rosa, 2021.

Pag. 28: Cartel digital (fragmento) diseñado por Felipe Cuchi, 2006.

Pag. 48: Antonio Paoli, boxeador, 1917. Olivia Paoli Marcano VDA de Mario Braschi,c.1900. Grabado de Poli Marichal, 2021.

Pág. 49: Antonio Paoli, en traje de calle, 1921. (También en la pág. 7). Antonio Paoli, estudiante de El Escorial, Madrid, c.1885.

Pág. 12 Óleo pintado en París, por autor desconocido para el estreno de la ópera Guillermo Tell de Gioachino Rossini.Donado al Centro de Bellas Artes por Jesus M. Lopez. 

Antonio Paoli was the most important tenor that Puerto Rico in all its musical history, has given to the world. He was born on April 14, 1871 and he lived in what is now the Casa Paoli up until he was twelve years old. Paoli died in San Juan on August 24, 1946. His remains rest, along with that of his companion, Adina, in Ponce's Ramón Baldorioty de Castro Mausoleum of Illustrious Men.


Most of his siblings, most notably the mezzo-soprano Amalia Paoli and the women's rights activist, Olivia Paoli, also lived with Antonio in this beautiful edifice. in 1907. 

     Antonio was the first tenor in the world to record a complete opera, The clowns. It was composed by the Italian composer Ruggiero Leoncavallo, who selected the tenor for the great skills that graced him. Amalia also had an impressive career as an opera and zarzuela [Spanish light opera] singer, which led her, like her brother, to travel to the world's great stages. His brother Carlos was Military Deputy Governor in the Philippines and his other brother Manuel was a prominent cultural impresario, businessman, and a great personal secretary to his beloved brother.

     His sister Olivia was one of the founders of the Puerto Rican Feminist League and continuously supported the work of her husband, the journalist and autonomist leader Mario Braschi Rodríguez, who died in the Casa Paoli in the arms of the great Puerto Rican patriot and political patriarch Luis Muñoz Rivera. Olivia and Mario were constantly visited by such celebrities in the fields of politics, letters and the arts, such as Román Baldorioty de Castro, José Celso Barbosa, Pedro Albizu Campos, Juan Morel Campos, Manuel G. Tavarez, Ramon Marín, among other thought leaders of the country. One of Mario's sons, known as Juan Braschi, was one of the great journalists who wrote for the newspaper El Día and was acting director of the newspaper La Correspondencia de Puerto Rico.

Antonio Paoli en el personaje de Arnold

Paoli used postcards with his image for advertising and as gifts to his fans and friends.

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Postcard with photograph of Antonio Paoli in street dress taken in Italy, c.1908. It was published on the cover of the important magazine of that time, IL TEATRO ILUSTRATO, May 1908 edition. For this reason it is dedicated to Signor Jacques  Salam in Berlin (Berlin in Italian), Germany, on February 20, 1913.
Apparently it's a  new historical data, because Jesús M. Lopez, his historian, indicates in his book Antonio Paoli: El León de Ponce (1997) that our Tenor only sang in Germany in 1911 and 1914. This photo shows that Paoli sang in Berlin in 1913.


Postcard with a photograph of Antonio Paoli on tour in Russia in 1905. The card is part of the Center's collection.

Additional links

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Read an essay by his nephew that presents an intimate portrait of the fiery personality of the great and eccentric artist.

Biography and career of the King of Tenors and Tenor of Kings: Antonio Paoli by the director of the Center.

Biography and career of the King of Tenors and Tenor of Kings: Antonio Paoli by the director of the Center.


See our page dedicated to the famous Puerto Rican singer,Amalia Paoli, sister of Antonio Paoli

Conversatorio a cargo de nuestro director, Nestor Murray-Irizarry


Video of Paoli's life and career

See the documentary on the life of Antonio Paoli, sponsored by Casa Paoli and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture made in 1991, and digitized from an abandoned cassette. SPANISH ONLY

Friends and contemporary artists of Antonio Paoli

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Italian baritone (1887-1953). He was one of the great operatic baritones of his time. Known as the "Voice of the Lion".


Apuntes sobre una gran soprano  

puertorriqueña se encuentran AQUI.

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Hipolito-Lazaro- EN Rigoletto, 1921-1922


World famous Catalan lyrical tenor.

Paoli bio

Antonio Paoli Marcano,
Tenor of Kings and King of Tenors

April 14, 1871 marks the date of Antonio Paoli's birth in the city of Ponce.

When his mother died, his sister Amalia decided to settle in Madrid with the younger brothers, since she wanted to offer them a better future. Antonio obtained a scholarship from Queen María Cristina of Habsburg to study at the Royal College of San Lorenzo del Escorial, and then entered the Toledo Military Academy.

      His military career failed to divert his interest in music. He sang as a soloist in various concerts throughout Spain and Portugal and in 1896, he received another scholarship and traveled to Italy to study singing. The Spanish court delighted in the his interpretations that day by day became among of the best in the world.

     It was M. Gallard, the director of the Grand Opera, who gave Antonio Paoli the opportunity to debut in Paris, where Rossini's opera William Tell had not been performed for a long time. Paoli's performance as William was so successful that he performed it four times afterwards. From that moment, the greatest stages in Europe claimed his presence and he became as famous as Francesco Tamagno, whom he admired so much. His dreams began to come true in 1899, when he debuted playing the role of Arnold, also in William Tell, at the Paris Opera.

     With this successful debut, Paoli began a career of triumphs on the best stages in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. From 1900 to 1914 he moved incessantly from one stage to another; from one city to another, from one country to another, and from continent to continent. Paoli receives many honors and distinctions during his long artistic career.

     Critics hailed him as "the best tenor in the world" after his performance in 1908 at the Politeama theatre in Bologna. There he also performed the opera Lohengrin with his sister Amalia.

     In 1910, at the Gran Theater of La Scala in Milan, he received an award that confirmed his magnificent talents as a tenor: he was declared "primo tenore". Here he performed the operas Samson and Delilah and La Africana.

     His powerful and dramatic tenor voice was wed with an exquisite personality, an incredible stage presence and a noble and generous heart.

     Paoli was tall, with blue eyes and dark curly hair. He dressed elegantly. Verdi's Otello was also known as “Paoli's Otello,” for his extraordinary interpretation of the character. Many scholars of Shakespeare's play only attended the last act, to witness his impeccable characterization of Otello's death.

     Antonio Paoli sang with the greatest singers of his time. In 1910, he was already the dramatic tenor in highest demand in Europe, and the highest paid. He was the first tenor in the world to record on disc a complete opera: I Pagliacci (1907) by R. Leoncavallo.

     In 1900, he married a young Austrian woman named Josefina Vetiska in Vienna. Upon returning to Puerto Rico in 1901, on a honeymoon trip, he sang a concert in the Cathedral of San Juan and another in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ponce. He also presented in Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Central America and New York. When he returned to Italy, he bought a villa in Porto Ceresio, Lugano, where his son, Antonio Arnaldo (Tonino), was born. But hen, his wife fell ill and remained in bed for twenty years, which caused the tenor great sadness.

     The First World War brought an unexpected change to his life, forcing him to move from the artistic to the sports scene. In 1916, he moved with his family to London and began training in boxing. In this new profession he won five fights, but lost the most precious thing for him: his voice. Due to a fracture in the right arm, he withdrew from the ring. He decided to get medical help to get his voice back. For this purpose he traveled to Milan to be treated by a laryngologist.

     To everyone's amazement, he returned to the stage with a voice stronger and more powerful than ever before. Thus began the second stage of his career, which would take him again throughout Europe and America.

In 1920 his wife died. A year later, he took up with the Italian Adelaida Bonini, whom he called Adina.

     He returned to his homeland in 1922. Together with his sister Amalia Paoli, he established a singing school. In 1946 he became ill with cancer and died at the age of 75.


"Curiosísima fotografía del insigne tenor portorriqueño Antonio Paoli cuando estudiaba en el Real Colegio del Escorial, Madrid (España) y aún no había vislumbrado los resonantes triunfos que le ha brindado su gloriosa carrera artística"

ANTONIO PAOLI 1921 Usada para publicidad

Antonio Paoli a la edad de 50 años de edad en 1921

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Casco que usó Antonio Paoli en el personaje Vasco de Gama en la ópera La Africana de Meyerbeer. Paoli cantó esta ópera veintiuna veces.

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Espada y otros accesorios que utilizaba Antonio Paoli en el persoje de Radames en la opera Aida de G.Verdi 

Cartel de letras (1921) que anunciaba, la participación de Antonio Paoli en su personaje de Otello en el Teatro Costanzi, hoy Teatro de la ópera de Roma en Italia. Este tipo de cartel era impreso en serigrafía y se pegaba sobre las amplias carteleras que usualmente se colocaban, en esa época, en los extremos de los teatros.

Daga o puñal que Antonio Paoli utilizó en el personaje de Otello en la ópera del mismo nombre de Verdi. Paoli interpretó a Otello quinientas setenta y cinco veces.

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