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Luisa Tetrazzini

Luisa Tetrazzini

(June 29, 1871 – April 28, 1940)

Click here for recordings and performances by Luisa Tetrazzini.

Luisa Tetrazzini was an Italian coloratura soprano who enjoyed great international fame.

Tetrazzini's voice was remarkable for its phenomenal flexibility, thrust, steadiness and thrilling tone.

She enjoyed a highly successful operatic and concert career in Europe and America from the 1890s through to the 1920s.

Born in Florence where she made her operatic debut in 1890 singing Inez in Meyerbeer's epic opera L'Africaine she spent the early part of her career singing mainly in Italian provincial theatres.

Later touring in Russia her repertoire consisted mainly of lyric-coloratura roles such as Violetta, Philine, Oscar, Gilda and Lucia.

She made her American debut in San Francisco in 1905 and was a sensation, later encountering legal difficulties that forbad her to perform in New York for a time.

In 2007 she made a sensational debut at Covent Garden singing Violetta in La Traviata. It turned her into an operatic superstar overnight allowing her to demand the highest fees and playing to full houses wherever she performed.

She finally performed in New York in 1908 -not at the Metropolitan but at Oscar Hammerstein's Manhattan Opera Company.

Hammerstein had supported her throughout the court case - which she had ultimately won- so she remained loyal to him and sang with his company.

She did sing in just one season at the Metropolitan however, in 1911-12 and the critics raved and the audiences went wild.

Further appearances in the USA were with The Boston Opera Company and the Chicago Grand Opera.

Luisa Tetrazzini was known for having extraordinary vocal technique that enabled her to overcome the greatest vocal challenges with relative ease.

She was totally comfortable with runs, trills, stacatti and any vocal ornaments. She also possessed a brilliant upper register that extended to E above high C and the notes were full blooded and ringing even at the top way surpassing other coloratura sopranos.

Her vocal registers, however, were not as well integrated as those of her rivals - Galli-Curci and her all time rival Dame Nellie Melba. The two had a famous falling out after a clash at Covent Garden.

Tetarazzini was short in stature and as she aged she grew everymore round. She could, however move well onstage and known for being a genial person with a warm personality it did translate on stage and she could still be highly effective.

She recorded extensively for HMV and Victor and some of her recordings still stand today as being superior to any renditions recorded since. Amongst the most highly praised- a spectacular rendition of "Io son Titania" from Ambroise Thomas' Mignon and "Saper Vorreste" from Verdi's Un Ballo In Maschera.

Her "Ah Non Credea Mirarti" from La Sonnambula and her "Una Voce Poco Fa," and "Ah Non Giunge," are exemplary and musicologists still claim they are unequalled for their sheer exhuberance and easy virtuosity.

Her third husband ploughed through the fortune La Tetrazzini had accrued leaving her pretty much penniless as her health declined.

She remained cheerful and amusing nonetheless, despite her dire circumstances and even famously noted "I am old, I am fat, but I am still Tetrazzini."

She died in Milan in April 1940 and the state paid for her funeral.

Luisa Tetrazzini is mentioned in the Victor Herbert song, "Art is Calling For Me"....'My figure's just like Tetrazzini....'


Click here for recordings and performances by Luisa Tetrazzini.

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