The word is emerging from Italy that the tenor Carlo Bergonzi has died, not long after his 90th birthday.

Bergonzi was a singer who might not have been as successful in today’s opera world. On stage, he looked awkward, his physical acting of the grand-gesture, extend-your-arms variety. There was plenty of acting, however, in his voice: all of the tenderness and warmth and ardor in the world rang out in a sound that was at once golden and caressing, with a characteristic liquid slurring over the consonants, a slight lisp that emphasized the smoothness of the legato line.

He kept his vocal agility into his old age, attracting young singers as students and even trying out the punishing role of “Otello” at Carnegie Hall at the age of 75. (It reportedly went well in the dress rehearsal, but the performance proved too much and he dropped out after a single act.

Tom Huizenga at NPR wrote a lovely appreciation of him for his 90th birthday – two weeks ago.