Born in San Francisco of Italian and Scandinavian heritage, Dario Vanni was introduced to music at an early age by his mother, the singer Annie Christine. Through his father he was exposed to the melodic folk songs of 19th and 20th century Neopolitan music.
Gifted with a fine tenor voice, while attending the University of Redlands, Dario Vanni won a scholarship to study under Dr. Paul Thompson at the MGM motion picture studios in Hollywood. He toured for eight years as a professional singer. During this time he also completed his formal education with an M.A. from the University of Redlands and music theory under Clarence Sawhill at the University of Southern California.
The young tenor had his debut in Puccini’s opera “La Boheme,” under the highly-esteemed conductor Herbert Wisekopft and the Beverly Hills Symphony orchestra. During these years with the Euterpe Pan Pacific Opera Group, Dario’s tenor voice commanded the lead role of Turridu in Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” the subsequent season. Those works were in turn followed by “Tosca,” Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffmann” and Sigmund Romberg’s “The Student Prince.” It was soon discovered, however, that financial reward and great artistic accomplishment do not necessarily go hand-in-hand in the United States.
Under the able management of Sid Strotz and the Amalgamated-Columbia Artists agency, Dario set off on a career of concertizing, eventually leading to a high-quality “tuxedo act” in the finer theatre-supper clubs of America. For eight years he concertized and performed in many venues, his repertoire being very elegant and continental. Being multi-lingual in song, Dario covered the spectrum from opera to jazz-blues, from Broadway to American-Italian love songs. During this tenure, the artistically maturing tenor met and worked with some of the finest instrumental side-men then in the business: Dave Cherry, keyboardist-arranger, bassist Dennis Fiennes, Gil Evans’ most excellent trumpet, Vim Carter’s mellow sax playing, and Phil Masuto’s superb guitar sounds, to name a few.
The Recording Years: It was during this time (cir. 1968-1980) that Dario Vanni recorded most of the popular material within the Vintage Vanni Series, included on this website. The operatic and Neopolitan songs were recorded under different auspices, including the Beverly Hills Symphony, the Santa Barbara Symphony and other ensembles gathered for recording purposes. Work-out and performance pianists included Rafael Rubinstein, Mirth Hammerberg, Eulalia Stade, Alice McCarter, Maurice Cole and many others. The recordings were not recorded originally for commercial purposes, but to allow Dario the opportunity to hear how he performed the songs and arias under live circumstances. It was only later that it was pointed out to him that he possessed a veritable treasure-trove of recorded music which might be shared with the world via CD compilations.
The Composing Years: Composition came only after many years as a teacher, producer, director and continuing performing artist. Dario Vanni developed many productions, writing, arranging and directing such shows as "From Blues to Broadway", the "Bravo" musical revue series. Through the auspices of the California Vehicle Foundation, wrote and produced "Hollywood and the Cars", "Around the World in Eighty Minutes" and other successful shows. His first full-fledged upper-end Broadway musical was “Monsters” (in association with and collaboration by life-long friend, Bruce O’Day) which was exhibited in highlight performances but never produced due to lack of proper financing. Other works in varying stages of composition are “The Golden Lamp,” “Siddartha,” “Toby Ticklebritches” (a children’s musical), and “Amulet,” the re-telling of Julius Caesar’s invasion of the Celtic Druids in early England
“Michelangelo the Musical”: In 2002, Mr. Vanni journeyed to Italy where he became fascinated with the bigger-than-life persona of Michelangelo Buonarroti. After much research, he wrote the lyrics and score to a musical play of the great master's life, utilizing panels from his world-famous art work in the Sistine Chapel. Anticipating the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo's monumental accomplishment on the massive ceiling within the Vatican (2008-2012), the composer is hard at work seeking the funds necessary to turn this stellar work into a high-quality motion picture, similar in concept to Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.”