RIP Luigi Vellucci
by Jay Levin (via Jersey.com) – Luigi Vellucci of Rutherford, for decades a stalwart performer with the New York City Opera, has died. He turned 99 in July.
The tenor had a long list of supporting roles in a stage career dating to the late 1940s. He graced such productions as “The Marriage of Figaro,” “La Traviata,” “Falstaff,” “Tales of Hoffman,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Der Rosenkavalier.”
He was singled out for comedy and versatility, as when the Pittsburgh Press wrote that he made for an “attractively, rascally smuggler” in a Pittsburgh Opera production of “Carmen.”
In all, the Providence, R.I., native sang more than 80 roles in five languages across the United States and internationally.
That did not include off-the-cuff performances while he served up lunch to fellow seniors at Rutherford‘s 55 Kip Center. The ebullient Mr. Vellucci volunteered with the senior program from its inception in 1985 and sat on the board of directors for several years.
“He’d always sing a little refrain or aria,” said Charlene Mariano, assistant director at the 55 Kip Center. “I never saw him not smiling. He was just a very happy guy.”
Mr. Vellucci and his wife, Miriam, moved to Rutherford from New York’s Upper West Side in 1978, several years after he retired from the New York City Opera.
Mr. Vellucci continued to give private voice lessons and he directed the choir at Rutherford Congregational Church and volunteered in the borough schools.
Miriam Vellucci, a soprano, was in the Metropolitan Opera chorus for 32 years. “We met on a church job,” said the 82-year-old, who sang professionally as Miriam Broderick, “because all singers have to supplement their income with church jobs.”
What attracted her to Luigi? “His magnetic personality, his energy, his smile, his love of life … his everything.”
She added that her husband always seemed 10 years younger than he was.
Mr. Vellucci died Oct. 17. His son, Michael, gave the eulogy Monday at Rutherford‘s First Presbyterian Church. “Thank you all for coming,” he began. “My dad loved an audience.”
In addition to his wife of 47 years and his son, of Glen Ridge, Mr. Vellucci is survived by a sister, Floria Tosca Bianchi of Providence, and two grandchildren.