(18 November 1882 – 26 November 1963)
Amelita Galli-Curci was an Italian coloratura soprano.
She became one of the most celebrated singers of all time helped by a large number of gramaphone records which sold in the thousands.
Starting out as a pianist she honed her skills by listening to other sopranos and reading old singing method books.
In 1906 she made her operatic debut in Italy singing Gilda in Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto. She quickly became greatly acclaimed throughout Italy, recognised for her sweet, agile voice.
She toured throughout Italy, Russia and South America as her fame grew.
In 1915 she sang just two performances of Lucia di Lammermoor in Buenos Aires South America with Enrico Caruso- it was the only time they ever sang together on an opera stage.
They did sing together in concerts in later years, however.
In 1916 she arrived in the United States completely unknown but after a peformance of Rigoletto on her 36th birthday the wildly enthusiastic reception she recieved led her to her being offered a contract with the Chicago Opera company.
She also signed a recording contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company (later to become RCA). This led to numerous recordings which were constantly well recieved by an adoring public.
In 1921, Amelita Galli-Curci joined the Metropolitan Opera where she stayed until her retirement nine years later. During this time she also sang in Great Britain in a series of concerts and she also toured Australia a year later giving a series of recitals.
In 1930, believing that opera was a dying art form and suffering from a goitre condition, she retired from the opera stage to concentrate on concert performance.
An operation in 1935 to correct the thyroid goitre did not go well and she lost her ability to sing easily in the upper register.
Since this time, the nerve damage to a "laryngeal nerve" sometimes reaches the vernacular when it is referred to as the "nerve of Galli-Curci" however surgeons have since disputed this claim saying her vocal define probably had more to do with her age than anything else.
In 1936 she made an ill advised return to the opera stage playing Mimi in La Boheme in Chicago- but it was a disaster.
Clearly her singing days were over. She retired finally soon after, to concentrate on teaching.
She died aged 81 in November 1963.
Amelita Galli-Curci can be heard today on a number of reissued CD's that display a voice of extraordinary lyrical beauty, clarity and agility.
It is impossible not to count her among the greatest singers of the 20th Century.