Luisa Tetrazzini


Born: June 28, 1871 Died: April 4, 1940
Luisa Tetrazzini first studied with her sister Eva who was a famous soprano in her own right. Luisa made her debut as Inez in L'Africaine at Florence in 1890. For eight years, she sang in the smaller houses in Italy then went to South America. In 1904 she traveled to San Francisco. Her first important international success was in 1907 at Covent Garden as Violetta in La Traviata. She sang for three seasons at the Manhattan Opera House starting in 1908 and in the 1911 - 1912 season at the Metropolitan Opera House, but she went on to have her greatest successes at Covent Garden and the Chicago Opera. Her Covent Garden debut as Lucia di Lammermoor was the hit of that season. She traveled with great success to all of the important opera houses around the world. She was on the first British radio broadcast of a concert in 1925. Her last American appearances were in 1931. She then returned to Italy, giving her last stage performances in 1934, and then she began to teach and coach in Rome and Milan. She had amassed a great fortune while she was performing and in retirement gave many gifts to friends. When she died, she was not destitute as is reported in most biographies, but still had many of her jewels.

Tetrazzini was a favorite of Ettore Bastianini and of Enrico Caruso as they felt she brought out their best. She sang all of the leading coloratura and many of the great lyric roles in opera. She was most famous for her Lucia di Lammermoor, Rosina in Barbiere di Siviglia, Gilda in Rigoletto and Violetta in La Traviata. The voice was a clear high soprano with great flexibility. Her ability to perform complex staccato passages was astonishing even in that era of great singers. Her voice had a warmth not often associated with high sopranos, which she demonstrated on many of her recordings of songs. Tetrazzini made her first recordings in 1904, but her greatest performances are found among her EMI discs recorded in London. Her technique is displayed in the recordings of arias from Lucia di Lammermoor, Dinorah, and Barbiere di Siviglia. Excellent examples of her lyrical warmth can be found in arias from Les PĂȘcheurs de perles, Peer Gynt, La Traviata, and Don Giovanni. Through her recordings, the artistry of Luisa Tetrazzini will never be forgotten.