Viñas, Francisco

Spanish tenor, 1863 - 1933


BORN: Francisco Viñas , Francesco Vignas, [Francesc Viñas], 27 March 1863, Moià nr Barcelona.

DIED: 14 July 1937, Barcelona.

FAMILY: He was married to the mezzo-soprano Giulia Novelli (1859-1932) who appeared at the first performances of Alberto Franchetti’s operas, Asrael (1888) and Christoforo Colombo (1892).

STUDIED:  Viñas studied with Gonzalo Tintorer. But it was Melchiorre Vidal (one of the great Spanish tenors in the 2nd half of the 19th century) who influenced the young singer the most.

DEBUT: As Lohengrin at the Liceu theatre, Barcelona (1888). The impression he made was enormous and it was the beginning of a triumphant artistic career.

ROLES: Turiddu Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni); Title role Amico Fritz (Mascagni); Don José Carmen (Bizet); Cavaradossi Tosca (Puccini); Des Grieux Manon Lescaut (Puccini); Title role Andrea Chénier (Giordano); Loris Fedora (Giordano); Enzo La Gioconda (Ponchielli);  Canio I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo);  Title role Roméo et Juliette (Gounod); Title role Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns); Aronne Mosè in Egitto (Rossini); Faust Mefistofele (Boito); Edgardo Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti); Max Der Freischütz (Weber); Title role Don Carlo (Verdi); Riccardo Un Ballo in maschera (Verdi); Radames Aida (Verdi); Gabriele Adorno Simon Boccanegra (Verdi);  Title roleTannhäuser (Wagner); Title roleTristan und Isolde (Wagner); Stolzing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner); Title role Parsifal (Wagner); Vasco da Gama L’Africaine (Meyerbeer); Jean Le Prophète (Meyerbeer); Raoul Les Huguenots (Meyerbeer); Federico Germania (Franchetti); Title role La Perugina (Mascheroni); Title role Lorenza (Mascheroni).

COMPANIES & VENUES: It was said there was hardly a theatre of importance in which Viñas had not sung. Spanish theatres: Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Madrid; Italian theatres:  Naples, Genoa, Torino, Palermo and La Scala (1889, 1896, 1904); English theatres: Shaftsbury Theatre, London (1891); Covent Garden (1893, 1895, 1901, 1904, 1907); Boston, Philadelphia, Saint Louis, Chicago and the Met (1893-1897); Paris; Lisboa (1905-1918); Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires (1910).

FIRST PERFORMANCES: Cavalleria rusticana (first local premiere), Shaftsbury Theatre, London (1891); Cavalleria rusticana (first local premiere), Met (1893); La Perugina, Teatro San Carlo, Naples (1909).

ALSO NOTEWORTHY:  Frequent partners: Nellie Melba, Emma Calvé, Maria Barrientos and Maria Gay, to name but a few. The artist was undoubtedly the leading exponent of Wagner singing in Italian language. After retiring in 1918 he published a book on art of singing in 1932.


“His renderings of Lohengrin were considered unsurpassable and the mythic name of Julian Gayarre was often evoked.”


Lohengrin - the role he sang more than 120 times in 3 years!


As Tristan


As Parsifal


RECORDINGS (selection):

Recital (Arias by Verdi, Mascheroni, Meyerbeer, Verdi and Wagner)


The Harold Wayne Collection Vol 31 - (also featuring Amedeo Bassi and Alessandro Bonci)


50 Spanish Tenors - Anthology


Our Recovered Voices Vol 1/2 (Barrientos, Blanchart, Constantino, Bori, Capsir, Fleta, Folgar, Galvany, Huguet, Lazáro, Navarro, Nieto, Palet, Pareto, Redondo, Sagi Barba, Supervia, Vendrell etc.)


Wagner by our Singers (Blanchart, Huguet, Palet, Raventós, Vendrell, Fagoaga, Canalda, de los Angeles)


Grandes Cantantes Españoles en el Teatro Real (Constantino, Galvany, Huguet, Blanchart, Barrientos, Calleja, Patero de Hidalgo, Lázaro, Cortis, Fleta, Nieto, Campiña, Mardones, Supervía)


Covent Garden on Record Vol 1/2 - Anthology


La Scala Edition Vol 1


Souvenirs From Meyerbeer Operas



As Vasco da Gama



Viñas’ voice stqnds for a vocal quality that has, unfortunately, disappeared from the today’s operatic platform. His is a real ‘spinto’ voice, at once a ringing, compact, firm and beautifully focused instrument. What is indeed very rare in spinto tenors (also in the past) that his voice also included warmth.  In his voice there was also a “seductive” quality that made him so successful in the Wagnerian parts which he sang all over the Italian operatic empire during the era of ‘Wagnerismo.’

I would like to present him in one of the most demanding Verdi arias, in Radames’ aria (Act 1). It has to be performed in youthful ardour. However, we should not forget that it has to be also a love song! Listen to Viñas!


As Radames

Celeste Aida (Radames in Aida / Verdi / Fonotipia 1905)



Pictures from the booklet - Francisco Viñas Ref. 1012 by the excellent Spanish label ARIA