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Charles Reading
The Reading Archive

Charles Guild Reading
March 13, 1921 - September 27, 2010

Upon completion of my Master of Music degree at Rutgers University, I set out to find a new teacher. On the recommendation of a friend, I went to see Charles Guild Reading.

Charles studied with Giuseppe de Luca during the last five years of the great baritone's life (pictured together at right). De Luca was considered to be perhaps the greatest baritone of the previous century. A friend and collaborator with Enrico Caruso, de Luca was a leading baritone at the Metropolitan Opera for over 30 years. At fifteen, he entered Santa Cecilia Accademia where he studied for five years with Venceslao Persichini, one of the most important voice teachers of his time whose students also included Mattia Battistini and Titta Ruffo.

De Luca performed throughout Europe and the US , appeared at La Scala for eight seasons, and created the roles of Sharpless in "Madame Butterfly," and Gianni Schicchi. He made his first recordings in 1905 and 1907 and had a repertoire of nearly 100 roles spanning his career of almost five decades.

While serving in the army during World War II and stationed in occupied Italy, Charles sought out de Luca. As a young man, Charles Reading befriended and made the acquaintance of many of the great singers of the last century including Elizabeth Rethberg, Rosa Ponselle, Beniamino Gigli and many others. He assisted de Luca in his teaching at the Julliard School and later taught classes there with the famous tenor, Giovanni Martinelli. He was influential in bringing Giuseppe Valdengo to the United States following World War II.

This advertisement (above) appeared in the January 1, 1951 issue of Musical America shortly after he opened his voice studio. While it seems nearly impossible to believe, over 50 years later his telephone number was still the same when I came to contact him the first time. I feel so fortunate to have been able to study with this man and to be one teacher removed from the great de Luca and two removed from Persichini.

In 2009, Deborah Andrews published this book entitled How a Voice Teacher Shapes the Performance of His Students: A Study of the Pedagogy and Life of Giuseppe De Luca. The book is a collection of stories of the world-famous operatic baritone through his student (Charles). The narratives are explored through the teacher-student relationship of De Luca and Reading by way of the relationship shared by Charles Reading and the author. The study also contains a CD of recordings made by Giuseppe De Luca between the years 1907 and 1947, which has been remastered by Grammy award winner, Ward Marston. It also includes the printed musical score for each of the recorded arias as well as the author's analysis of how De Luca applied his vocal technique to the singing of these arias, with specific tenets and technical feats of the 'bel canto' style.

This portion of my website is dedicated to Charles Reading. You will find a great number of wonderful photos of Charles with the great singers of the previous century and other memorabilia.

Enter the Charles Reading Archive