Sicilian-born Vincenzo La Scola is one of the best-known and most successful Italian tenors of the last fifteen years of the twentieth century. He has had great success in major opera houses and has gained unexpected fame in popular music releases.
He entered the 1979 Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, Italy. The world-famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti heard him sing and recommended him for studies with his own singing teacher from Modena, Arrigo Pola. In 1982, La Scola entered the Vico Verdiane (Verdi Voices) competition of Busseto where he won the Alessandro Ziliano Award. This prize included an engagement to sing as his debut the role of Orante in Verdi's I Lombardi and, even more valuable to La Scola, to be coached in the part by another of the very greatest Italian singers, Carlo Bergonzi, who afterwards invited La Scola to continue studying voice with him. La Scola finished up his vocal training with another great teacher, Rodolfo Celleti.
His voice is said to have characteristics of both of the great singers who started him on his way, brilliance of Bergonzi and sweetness of Pavarotti, and the lyricism that both great tenors shared.
La Scola made his professional debut in 1983 at Parma in the role of Ernesto in Donizetti's Don Pasquale. His foreign debut was at La Monnaie of Brussels in the starring role of Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore, with John Pritchard conducting. This was followed by engagements in leading houses of Europe: Hamburg, Paris, Venice, Verona, Vienna, London, Lisbon, Bonn, Cologne, Berlin, and Barcelona, among others. He specialized in lyric parts in operas such as L'Amico Fritz, Rigoletto, Luisa Miller, and Traviata.
He made his recording debut in 1986 in Rossini's Petite Messe solennelle on the Erato label, followed the same year with recordings of Genesi by Franco Barriato on Fonit Cetra and in a full-length opera release of Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda.
He debuted at La Scala in Milan in 1988 in L'Elisir d'Amore. In the same year, he debuted at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna in Pietro Mascagni's Le Maschere, a performance that was released in live recording. His U.S. debut was in 1991 at the San Francisco Opera in I Caputleti ed I Montecchi, and in 1993 he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera of New York as Rodolfo in La Bohème.
His other roles inlcude Alfredo in La Traviata, Riccardo in Un Ballo in maschera, the title roles in Roberto Devereux and Don Carlos, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Offenbach's Hoffman, Pollione in Norma, and Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegro.
He frequently sings on the concert stage in such repertory as Verdi's Requiem.
In 1998, he met the famous British pop singing star Sir Cliff Richards. At the suggestion of Richards' producer Peter Wolf, La Scola joined Cliff on the album "Real As I wanna Be," where the two joined in a duet called Vita Mia, which became a hit.
Later in 1998, La Scola joined Richards on stage at a benefit concert at Althorp Park to aid the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, then took part in Cliff Richards' twenty-concert season at Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. La Scola unfailingly brought the house down singing "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's Turandot, then joining Richards in Vita Mia. This led to a contract with EMI classics and with the EMI label Blacknight for a solo album, also called "Vita Mia." On this highly successful crossover release, he sings his signature pop song, three duets with Richard, and classical tracks including cellist Julian Lloyd Webber as a guest artist.