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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 276-300 of 306 Available Recordings
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  • 276.
    Ti Amo - Puccini's Greatest Love Songs
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425099 Release Date: 10/12/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Tom Krause,  Montserrat Caballé,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Herbert von Karajan,  Nicola Rescigno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 277.
    Puccini: Manon Lescaut / Levine, Freni, Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 440200 Release Date: 09/14/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Ramón Vargas,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 278.
    Puccini: La Boheme
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 4601 Release Date: 08/31/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Afro Poli,  Grazia Di Rocco,  Mario Gaetani  ... 
    Conductor:  Leone Magiera
    CD: $12.99
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  • 279.
    Mad About Puccini
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439151 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Mirella Freni,  Katia Ricciarelli,  Juan Pons  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Herbert von Karajan,  Leonard Bernstein,  Roberto Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 280.
    Mad About Sopranos
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439153 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Hildegard Behrens,  Agnes Baltsa,  Janet Perry,  Anna Tomowa-Sintow  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Herbert von Karajan,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Claudio Abbado  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 281.
    Handel: Alcina / Sutherland, Berganza, Freni, Sinclair
    Label: London/Decca Grand Opera Series   Catalog: 4337232 Release Date: 10/01/1992   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Marilyn Horne,  Mirella Freni,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Ezio Flagello  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 282.
    Puccini: Tosca / Sinopoli, Freni, Domingo, Ramey
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 431775 Release Date: 09/15/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Bryn Terfel,  Anthony Laciura,  Angelo Veccia  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $32.99
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  • 283.
    Essential Opera - Bizet, Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 433822 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Georges Bizet,  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Leo Nucci,  Placido Domingo,  Piero de Palma,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Patané,  Sir Georg Solti,  Zubin Mehta,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 284.
    Complete Mozart Edition Vol 40 - Le Nozze Di Figaro / Davis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422540 Release Date: 01/16/1992   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Ingvar Wixell,  Wladimiro Ganzarolli,  Yvonne Minton,  Maria Casula  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus
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  • 285.
    Complete Mozart Edition Vol 41 - Don Giovanni / Davis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422541 Release Date: 01/16/1992   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Luigi Roni,  Richard Van Allan,  Wladimiro Ganzarolli,  Stuart Burrows  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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    CD: $34.99
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  • 286.
    Puccini: La Boheme / Schippers, Freni, Gedda, Adani, Sereni
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69657 Release Date: 11/08/1991   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Mariella Adani,  Mirella Freni,  Mario Sereni
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
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  • 287.
    Klemperer Edition- Mozart: Don Giovanni / Ghiaurov, Gedda
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 63841 Release Date: 08/16/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  Paolo Montarsolo,  Walter Berry,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Chorus,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 288.
    Cavalleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci / Pavarotti, Gavazzeni
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414590 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Pietro Mascagni
    Performer:  Vincenzo Bello,  Ingvar Wixell,  Mirella Freni,  Lorenzo Saccomani  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Patané,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Opera Chorus
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  • 289.
    Gounod: Faust / Prêtre, Domingo, Freni, Ghiaurov, Paris
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 47493 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Michèle Command,  Thomas Allen,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Georges Prêtre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Chorus,  Paris Opera Orchestra
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    CD: $44.99
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  • 290.
    Puccini: La Boheme - Highlights / Karajan, Pavarotti, Freni
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421245 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Rolando Panerai,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Gianni Maffeo,  Elizabeth Harwood  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Schöneberg Boys Choir
    CD: $15.99
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  • 291.
    Puccini: La Bohème / Karajan, Freni, Pavarotti, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421049 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Elizabeth Harwood,  Mirella Freni,  Rolando Panerai  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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    CD: $31.99
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  • 292.
    Puccini: Madama Butterfly - Highlights / Karajan, Freni
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421247 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Robert Kerns,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 293.
    Puccini: Madama Butterfly / Karajan, Freni, Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417577 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Marius Rintzler,  Christa Ludwig,  Wolfgang Schneider,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 294.
    Puccini: Tosca / Rescigno, Freni, Pavarotti, Milnes
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414036 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Sherrill Milnes,  Richard Van Allan,  Italo Tajo  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicola Rescigno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Opera Chorus,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
    CD: $32.99
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  • 295.
    Rossini: William Tell / Milnes, Pavarotti, Freni, Chailly
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417154 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  John Noble,  Elizabeth Connell,  Ferruccio Mazzoli,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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    On sale! $67.99
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  • 296.
    Tchaikovsky: Eugen Onegin / Levine, Allen, Freni, Von Otter
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423959 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Rosemarie Lang,  Ruthild Engert,  Thomas Allen,  Neil Shicoff  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle
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  • 297.
    Verdi: Aida / Karajan, Freni, Carreras, Baltsa, Cappuccilli
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 69300 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Piero Cappuccilli,  Ruggero Raimondi,  Katia Ricciarelli,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 298.
    Verdi: Don Carlo / Karajan, Carreras, Freni, Ghiaurov, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 69304 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Agnes Baltsa,  Piero Cappuccilli,  Ruggero Raimondi,  Edita Gruberova  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
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  • 299.
    Bizet: Carmen Highlights / Karajan, Price, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 60190 Release Date: 06/26/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Franco Corelli,  Leontyne Price,  Mirella Freni,  Monique Linval  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 300.
    Puccini: Madama Butterfly / Sinopoli, Freni, Carreras, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423567 Release Date: 09/12/1989   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Juan Pons,  Anthony Laciura,  Mark Curtis  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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