Born: April 1, 1892
Died: March 25, 1935
Born Renato Zanelli-Morales of Italian descent, he studied in Santiago with Angelo Querze, making his debut there as a baritone in 1916, as Valentin. He later sang such important baritone roles as Tonio, de Luna, and Renato.
His New York Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1919, as Amonasro. He remained there until 1923, singing most of the major Italian baritone parts.
Zanelli then left for Italy for further studies with Dante Lari and Fernando Tanara in Milan.
His first appearance as a tenor occurred in 1924 at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, as Raoul. He went on to sing widely in Italy and South America in roles as diverse as Pollione, Don José, Andrea Chénier, Canio, Tristan and Siegmund.
He sang his first Otello in Turin in 1926, which also was his debut role at the Royal Opera House in London. His portrayal of Otello was notable for the intensity of its dramatic utterance. He took part in the first performance, in 1930, of Pizzetti ‘s Lo straniero at La Scala, Milan.
Zanelli had a rich voice and was equally successful as a baritone and a tenor, his early death from cancer cutting short a brilliant career. His artistry is preserved, however, on a number of recordings of operatic arias which he made at the height of his powers in the two vocal categories that he had mastered. These recordings are available on CD.
His brother, Carlos Zanelli-Morales (1897-1970), was also a successful baritone. He sang under the stage name of Carlo Morelli in Italy and also at the Met from 1935 to 1940.