Mirella Freni

Biography

Born: February 27, 1935   Country: Italy  
Mirella Freni is the textbook example of a lyric soprano who expanded wisely to the spinto roles, conserving her voice so that even in her sixties she still possessed enough vocal freshness and bloom that she made a credible Mimi in theaters all over the world. (In Italy, one of her nicknames is "La Prudentissima," or "the most prudent one.") She is also a highly sympathetic actor in both comedies and more serious roles.

In an amusing
Read more coincidence, she and Pavarotti shared the same wet nurse as a child (both of their mothers worked in a tobacco factory, making their own milk unsuitable) and she later joked that he obviously got the bigger share of the milk. The granddaughter of Valentina Bartomesi, Freni was a child prodigy, singing "Sempre libera" in her first public performance at the age of ten. At 12, she made her broadcast debut singing "Un bel di" in a radio competition. Beniamino Gigli, a competition judge, warned her that she could damage her voice if she continued to sing opera with her voice still so undeveloped. She waited until she was 17 to begin studying again. Her new teacher was Ettore Campogalliani, whose most-celebrated student had been Renata Tebaldi.

Two years later, in 1955, she made her stage debut as Micaela in Carmen, one of her favorite and most effective roles. At this point, she briefly postponed further career development when she married conductor Leone Magiera and had a child (whom she named Micaela, after her debut role), but resumed singing again in 1958, when she won the Viotti competition in Vercelli, Italy. The prize was the role of Mimi in La bohème in Turin, a role in which she later made her Met, La Scala, Chicago, and San Francisco debuts. In 1960, she made her Glyndebourne debut as Zerlina, in 1961 her Covent Garden debut as Nanetta in Falstaff, and in 1963 her La Scala debut as Mimi in La bohème in the now-famous Zeffirelli production. Herbert von Karajan was the conductor for the La Scala Bohème, and he became one of her prominent supporters; as he did with many singers, he encouraged her to move toward heavier repertoire, such as Desdemona in Otello, which she first sang with him in 1970 and also filmed with Jon Vickers and Peter Glossop in a movie directed and conducted by Karajan. At that time, he declared that he had waited 40 years to hear such a Desdemona. She started to add more of these lyrico-spinto roles to her stage repertoire and also filmed the role of Madama Butterfly with Karajan. However, she absolutely refused to sing the title role of Turandot when he asked her to in 1980, and he subsequently refused to work with her again.

In 1981, she married Bulgarian bass Nicolai Ghiaurov, who encouraged her to examine the Russian repertoire. At first, she began to add Russian songs to her recitals, with his musical and language coaching, and then in the late 1980s, she was ready to sing the role of Tatiana in Eugene Onegin. In 1990, she took on Lisa (The Queen of Spades). In the mid-1990s, she started singing Giordano roles for the first time, not only Fedora, a role typically beloved by divas toward the end of their careers, but the title role of Madame Sans-Gene, a comedic, even occasionally farcical role. In 1990, she received the order Cavaliere della Gran Croce della Republica Italiana and the Légion d'Honneur in 1993. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 328 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Mozart: Cosi fan Tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Idomeneo, Don Giovanni
    Label: Bravissimo Opera Library   Catalog: 9918 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Gundula Janowitz,  Reri Grist,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Colin Davis,  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Chorus  ... 
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  • 2.
    Luciano Pavarotti Edition 1 - The First Decade
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002051802 Release Date: 05/19/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Josephine Veasey,  Cornelius Opthof  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Zubin Mehta,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $169.98
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  • 3.
    Puccini DVD 4-Pack - La Boheme, Tosca, Le Villi, Edgar
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4941 Release Date: 04/07/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Albert Montserrat,  Andrea Rola,  Halla Margret,  Giovanni Tarasconi  ... 
    Conductor:  Tamás Pál,  Tiziano Severini,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mediterranean Choir,  Mediterranean Philharmonic Orchestra,  San Francisco Opera Orchestra  ... 
    DVD: $49.99
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  • 4.
    Bellini: I Puritani / Verchi, Freni, Kraus, Arie, D'orazi
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 81 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Alfredo Kraus,  Attilio D'Orazi,  Raphäel Arié  ... 
    Conductor:  Nino Verchi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Modena Teatro Comunale Orchestra
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  • 5.
    The 50 Greatest Tracks / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922802 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Kathleen Battle,  Malcolm King  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Richard Bonynge,  Edward Downes  ... 
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  • 6.
    Karajan - 1970s
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001873702 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 82
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Francesco Manfredini,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Brandis,  Michel Schwalbé,  Karlheinz Zöller,  Edith Mathis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Hans Priem Bergrath
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
    CD: $313.99
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  • 7.
    The Opera Album
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233707 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Franco Bonisolli,  Mirella Freni,  Gudrun Schäfer,  Sesto Bruscantini
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Ino Savini
    CD: $24.99
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  • 8.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7705035 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Alfredo Kraus,  Frank Bishop,  George Meadows  ... 
    Conductor:  Robin Stapleton
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  • 9.
    Verdi: Great Operas (10-CD Set)
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 233617 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Daniela Dessi,  Vincenzo La Scola,  Michele Pertusi,  Riccardo Ristori  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuliano Carella,  Maurizio Arena,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Bruno Bartoletti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian International Orchestra,  Bratislava Chamber Chorus,  Turin Teatro Regio Chorus  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 10.
    Magic Verdi
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 282712 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Fiorenza Cossotto,  Martina Arroyo,  Piero Cappuccilli  ... 
    Conductor:  Efrem Kurtz,  Riccardo Muti,  Alberto Erede,  Anton Guadagno  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 11.
    Mozart: Operas / Otto Klemperer [11-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 43782 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Yvonne Minton,  Sir Geraint Evans,  Luigi Alva  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Chorus  ... 
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  • 12.
    Puccini: Turandot / Lombard, Caballe, Freni, Carreras, Plishka
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 390052 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  José Carreras,  Vincente Sardinero,  Rémy Corazza  ... 
    Conductor:  Alain Lombard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra,  Rhine Opera Chorus,  Maîtrise de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg
    CD: $17.99
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  • 13.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001806202 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey,  Violeta Urmana,  Sara Fulgoni  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Voices,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $236.99
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  • 14.
    50 Best Verdi
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 338302 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Rolando Villazón,  Renato Bruson,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Marcello Viotti,  Giuseppe Patané,  Julius Rudel  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 15.
    The Very Best Of Mirella Freni
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 164942 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Francesco Cilèa  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Gedda,  Michèle Vilma,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Thomas Schippers,  Leone Magiera,  Antonino Votto  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 16.
    The Very Best Of Nicolai Gedda
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 164972 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jules Massenet,  Charles Gounod,  Hector Berlioz,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  André Mallabrera,  Ernest Blanc,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Alceo Galliera,  Georges Prêtre,  André Cluytens,  Pierre Dervaux  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    60 Jahre Munchner Rundfunkorchester: Great Singers Live
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900309 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Francesco Cilèa,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Lucia Popp,  Hermann Prey  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ghiaurov,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Georges Prêtre,  Alfredo Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
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  • 18.
    Essential Opera Divas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234522 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Arleen Augér,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Véronique Gens,  Jessye Norman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Fabio Biondi,  Christophe Rousset,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 19.
    Essential Verdi
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234602 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Beverly Sills,  Nicolai Gedda,  Anna Moffo,  Delia Wallis  ... 
    Conductor:  Aldo Ceccato,  Sir Colin Davis,  Tullio Serafin,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    Verdi: Opera Highlights
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 167332 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Alfredo Kraus,  Renata Scotto,  Beverly Sills,  Sherrill Milnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Julius Rudel,  Herbert von Karajan,  Lamberto Gardelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 21.
    Verdi: The Great Operas [35-CDs]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 167452 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Anne Edwards,  Matteo Manuguerra,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Renata Scotto  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  James Levine,  Tullio Serafin,  Antonio Pappano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus  ... 
    CD: $88.99
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  • 22.
    Pavarotti And The Divas
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 6011 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Renata Scotto,  Mirella Freni,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 23.
    Solti: The Legacy, 1937-1997
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001777802 Release Date: 12/04/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Benjamin Britten,  Umberto Giordano,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Tito Gobbi,  Mirella Freni,  Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni / Klemperer, Ghiaurov, Gedda, Watson, Freni, Ludwig
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 4483 Release Date: 10/22/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Walter Berry,  Mirella Freni,  Nicolai Gedda,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 25.
    Solti Conducts The Verdi Operas [16-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746202 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Robert Merrill,  Rita Gorr,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
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    On sale! $99.98
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