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
Donizetti: L'Elisir d'Amore / Molinari Pradelli, Freni, Gedda, Sereni, Capecchi
Release Date: 04/05/2011   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 48280   Number of Discs: 3
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Tchaikovsky: Eugen Onegin / Levine, Allen, Freni, Von Otter
Release Date: 10/25/1990   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 423959   Number of Discs: 2
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Verdi: Simon Boccanegra / Abbado, Freni, Cappuccilli, Et Al
Release Date: 01/27/1998   Label: Dg The Originals  
Catalog: 449752   Number of Discs: 2
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Bizet: Carmen / Karajan, Price, Corelli, Merrill, Freni
Release Date: 08/11/1998   Label: Rca Victor Red Seal  
Catalog: 39495   Number of Discs: 3
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Puccini: La Bohème / Karajan, Freni, Pavarotti, Et Al
Release Date: 10/25/1990   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 421049   Number of Discs: 2
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Browse 1-25 of 220 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Donizetti: Don Pasquale / Freni, Muti, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 557373 Release Date: 09/09/2016  
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Leo Nucci,  Mirella Freni,  Sesto Bruscantini,  Gosta Winbergh
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 2.
    The Great Placido Domingo
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556098 Release Date: 06/17/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Amilcare Ponchielli  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Katia Ricciarelli,  Ezio di Cesare,  John [Bass Vocals] Macurdy  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Kohn,  Nello Santi,  Riccardo Muti,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rondalla Lirica de Madrid
    CD: $16.99
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  • 3.
    Opera Gold: 100 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002503602 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Marilyn Horne,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Henry Lewis,  Richard Bonynge,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 4.
    Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin / Levine, Staatskapelle Dresden
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002475502 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Rosemarie Lang,  Neil Shicoff  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle
    CD: $21.99
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  • 5.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459302 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Violeta Urmana,  Stuart Neill,  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    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: $220.99
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  • 6.
    Puccini: La boheme / Freni, Pavarotti [Blu-ray]
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 109184 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Sandra Pacetti,  Mirella Freni,  Gino Quilico
    Conductor:  Tiziano Severini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Opera Chorus,  San Francisco Opera Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $32.49
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  • 7.
    Puccini: Turandot / Lombard, Caballe, Freni, Carreras, Plishka
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554004 Release Date: 01/29/2016   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
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 8.
    The History of Classical Music in 24 Hours
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002403602 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Pérotin,  Guillaume de Machaut,  John Dunstable  ... 
    Performer:  Konrad Ragossnig,  Charles [Tenor Vocals] Daniels,  Susan Gritton,  Trevor Pinnock  ... 
    Conductor:  Pater Godehard Joppich,  David Munrow,  Josef Ulsamer,  Bruno Turner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Early Music Consort of London,  Ulsamer-Collegium,  Pro Cantione Antiqua  ... 
    CD: $75.49
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  • 9.
    Tchaikovsky: Masterworks Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002362102 Release Date: 09/04/2015   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Rosemarie Lang,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Ruthid Engert-Ely,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Seiji Ozawa,  Mikhail Pletnev  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Staatskapelle Dresden,  Tchaikovsky Choir,  French National Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $78.99
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  • 10.
    Karajan - The Opera Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002328102 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 70
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Franz Lehár,  Franz von Suppé  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Zednik,  Christine Barbaux,  Katia Ricciarelli,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $279.49
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  • 11.
    The Young Pavarotti: Great Operas
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 59030 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Marlo [Bass Vocal] Gaetai,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Guldo [Baritone Vocal] D'orazl,  Giulio Antonioni  ... 
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera,  Tullio Serafin,  Giuseppe Patané,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli  ... 
    CD: $13.99
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  • 12.
    Claudio Abbado New Years Eve Concerts Box [3 Blu-rays]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2013504 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Bryn Terfel,  Roberto Alagna,  Mikhail Pletnev  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Chorus
    Blu-ray Video: $88.99
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  • 13.
    100 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002188102 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Edvard Grieg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Neeme Järvi,  Herbert von Karajan,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theater Violin Ensemble,  Ansbach Bach Week Soloists Union,  Salzburg Mozarteum Camerata Academica  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 14.
    Classic Duets / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002232209 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Pietro Mascagni,  Umberto Giordano,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Luciano Pavarotti,  June Anderson,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Bartoletti,  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir Georg Solti,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    DVD: $11.99
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  • 15.
    Classic Duets / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002200802 Release Date: 11/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Pietro Mascagni,  Umberto Giordano,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Luciano Pavarotti,  June Anderson,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Bartoletti,  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir Georg Solti,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 16.
    Great Performances Recorded Live at Covent Garden 1955-1997
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 9024 Release Date: 09/30/2014   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Marian Nowakowski,  Michael Langdon,  Raymond Nilsson,  Otakar Kraus  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik,  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Rudolf Kempe,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
    On sale! $119.99
    CD: $94.99
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  • 17.
    Puccini: Madama Butterfly / Karajan, Domingo, Freni, Ludwig
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002154259 Release Date: 09/23/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Elke Schary,  Giorgio Stendoro,  Marius Rintzler,  Michel Sénéchal  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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    Blu-ray Video: $38.99
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  • 18.
    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  ... 
    CD: $157.49
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  • 19.
    Domingo at the Met [Anniversary Edition]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 303160 Release Date: 05/06/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  David [Tenor Vocal] Hamilton,  Allan Glassman,  Paul Plishka  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin,  Giuseppe Patané,  Giuseppe Sinopoli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    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,  Malcolm King,  Robert Lloyd  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Richard Bonynge,  Edward Downes  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 24.
    Puccini: Turandot / Lombard, Caballe, Freni, Carreras, Plishka
    Label: Warner 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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  • 25.
    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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