Aroldo Lindi (1888-1944) was born Gustav Harald Lindau in the borough of Tuna in Vimmerby, Sweden. He began his working life at age 12 in the coal mines of his native region. In his mid-teens, he and his older brother sailed to the U.S and landed in Boston. In the decade that followed, Lindi worked as a piano mover, auto painter and boxer. During this period, he discovered his voice…baritone at that time…and began singing with Boston’s Swedish Svetlod Society. The young singer made his way to New York where he took a job as a singing waiter. Lindi also sang in the chorus of various summer stock companies and worked as a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera. During this period, he was heard by financier John Aspergrin. Impressed by the young man’s talent, Aspergrin arranged for an audition with Metropolitan Opera conductor Giuseppe Bambochek, who opined that further vocal studies were in order. Members of New York’s Swedish community raised funds to enable Lindi to study at Hunter College, where the budding singer discovered his true tenor range. After studies with Madame Dean Dossert and Cesare Sturani, he returned to Boston, where he made his debut as Radames in Aïda with the Fleck Opera Company in 1916. Over the course of the next three or four years, Lindi travelled the U.S. with various third rate touring companies. As he passed the age of thirty, however, the tenor realized that his career was going nowhere. Lindi’s relationship with singer Della Johnson, whom he had married in 1916, was beginning to sour (the two would separate in 1920 and eventually divorced in 1929) and the tenor decided that there was nothing to keep him in the U.S. So, with no real prospects on the horizon, he travelled to Italy to solidify his vocal technique and, perhaps, expand his operatic career.
Following further studies with Renato Bellini, the tenor…now calling himself Aroldo Lindi…made his European debut in November of 1922 at the Teatro Alfieri in Asti as Don Alvaro in La Forza del Destino to great acclaim. A few weeks later, he sang Radames at Milan’s Teatro dal Verme, with equal success. From that point, Lindi’s career took off with appearances with Milan’s La Scala, the Teatro Regio in Parma, the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice, La Fenice in Venice, the Liceo in Barcelona, Stockholm’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden in London and at major theaters in Hamburg, Lisbon, Palermo, Rimini, Pisa, Turin, Vienna, Paris, Monte Carlo, Cairo, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and San Francisco. Among Lindi’s many roles were Manrico in Il Trovatore, Calaf in Turandot, Cavaradossi in Tosca, des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West, Giannetto in La Cena delle Beffe, Canio in Pagliacci, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, Don José in Carmen, and the title roles in Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and Otello.
After a decade in Italy, Lindi returned to the U.S. However, with America in the grip of the Great Depression, opportunities with larger companies were few and far between, despite the tenor’s impressive European resume. Ironically, Lindi found that his only work was with an operatic touring company. Although Fortune Gallo’s San Carlo Opera was an improvement over the touring companies of his youth, the tenor still had no one theater to call his artistic home. For the next dozen years, Lindi crisscrossed North America, essentially singing the same half dozen audience favorites…Aïda, Turandot, Samson et Dalila, Il Trovatore, Carmen and Pagliacci…over and over again. By the early 1940s, the strain of this vagabond lifestyle was taking a toll on Lindi’s health. He had gained a tremendous amount of weight and suffered a heart attack in Montreal in early 1944. Despite doctor’s orders to slow down, he concealed his health issues from most of his colleagues and rejoined San Carlo’s tour a few weeks later. Lindi felt well enough to undertake a performance of Pagliacci in San Francisco on the evening of March 8. The performance was going well and Lindi seemed to be feeling fine. Just as the tenor was preparing to return to the stage to complete Act I, a colleague asked how he was feeling. “Ask me in five minutes”, was the tenor’s reply as he ran onto the stage to confront Nedda and sing the famous “Vesti la giubba”. During the final measures of the aria, Lindi collapsed to the stage and completed the act in a prone position. By the time the curtain came down, the 55-year-old tenor was dead.
Aroldo Lindi made numerous recordings for Columbia during the 1920s. These discs reveal a true tenore di forza and demonstrate an impressive proficiency in Italian and English. Here, Lindi sings Tosti's "Goodbye!". This recording was made in London for Columbia in 1926.