Opera Scotland

Magda Olivero Suggest updates

Born Saluzzo, nr Turin, 25 March 1910.

Died Milan, 8 September 2014.

Italian soprano.

Magda Olivero was noted as a great singing actress, especially in works by Puccini and the verismo school. While she was never considered to have a purely beautiful voice, she continued to sing stylishly to an age when most sopranos have long retired. Her interpretation of Adriana Lecouvreur was particularly noted, and she was chosen by its composer, Cilea, to interpret the role shortly before his death.

She made her first appearance at Turin in 1933, as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. Her career developed steadily in Italy, but she chose to retire from the stage following her marriage in 1941. She was only persuaded to resume a decade later by Cilea himself. Her career then continued successfully for a further thirty years.

In Britain her first performances were as Mimì in 1952, with a visiting Italian group, which did not tour, but played only at the Stoll in London (with Tito Gobbi also in the company). She returned for two appearances at Edinburgh, with companies from Naples and Florence.

She did not work in the USA until 1967, when she sang Medea at Dallas, repeating the role at Kansas City. In 1970 she sang in Adriana Lecouvreur at Hartford, Conn., and returned to Dallas for Fedora. Her much appreciated debut at the Met as Tosca did not come until 1975. One notable appearance in Italy came at the Verona Arena in 1970, when she defied the years to portray a remarkably youthful Manon Lescaut. Her Des Grieux on that occasion was Plácido Domingo. She also had success in the title role of Mascagni's Iris.

She can be heard on excellent form in a complete studio recording of Giordano's Fedora, made in 1969. The same year she also recorded extracts from Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini.

Roles in Scotland

Adriana Lecouvreur leading actress at the Comédie-Française
Adriana Lecouvreur 1963
Sette Canzoni 1969

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