Nuccia Focile


Born: November 25, 1961
Lyric soprano Nuccia Focile combines a clear voice, an attractive and youthful appearance, and a sparkling stage appearance to develop a leading international operatic career in the last several years of the twentieth century.

She was a pupil of Elio Battaglia while she studied at the Turin (Torino) Conservatory. At the end of her period of study, in 1986, she made her professional operatic debut as Oscar in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera at the Turin Opera. In the same year, she traveled to Philadelphia where she won the international Pavarotti Singing Competition. This resulted in a number of concert and operatic appearances with the famed tenor. This included the famous concert Pavarotti gave in his hometown of Modena, Italy, which was recorded on CD and video and broadcast live in Italy. This resulted in a very large audience experiencing her talent and charm and in offers to sing in most of the major houses in Europe.

He career trajectory had been a familiar one for young lyric sopranos: she began with the lighter Mozart roles, Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, and soubrette roles such as Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff. Later her voice broadened and she took on heavier lyrical parts and roles edging closer to the dramatic soprano repertory.

In the earlier part of her career, Nannetta became one of her favorite parts, for personal and well as musical reasons. In 1988, she visited the Welsh National Opera to sing in Falstaff in a production by Peter Stein that was highly acclaimed. She sang the role at Covent Garden that year, and joined the roster of the Welsh National Opera. The Stein production was taken on tour to London, New York, La Scala, and Paris. In 1990, it was scheduled to go to Tokyo, but by then her partner as Fenton (Nannetta's boy friend in the opera), Laurence Dale, was unavailable. Paul Charles Clarke, a British tenor from Liverpool, took over the part. They did not practice the kissing scene (the young lovers are behind a screen are revealed while smooching) until the performance. As Focile told a British women's magazine, "Well, we liked the kiss and decided to try the real thing!" She and Clarke were married in Monte Carlo and have made their home in Cardiff, Wales, since then. They now have a daughter, Antonia, who was born in New York, while her father was singing with the Metropolitan.

Focile made her Metropolitan debut in 1995 as Mimì in La Bohème. As her voice has taken on a more mature flavor, she has added parts such as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin; Verdi's Luisa Miller; Gounod's Juliet; Amelia in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra; Puccini's Madama Butterfly; the title role in Janacek's Kat'ya Kabanova; and her favorite role, Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni.

She also sings concert performances, including the Welsh Proms at Cardiff Bay. She has recorded for the Philips and Opera Rara labels. Among the discs she has recorded are a Eugene Onegin with Semyon Bychkov conducting, Donizetti's L'assedio di Calais (as Eleonora), and three acclaimed Telarc productions of Mozart-Da Ponte operas with Charles Mackerras: Le nozze di Figaro (as Susanna), Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. She has also participated in the anthology recordings A Hundred Years of Italian Opera, 1820 - 1830 and Donizetti Divas.