La Scena Musicale

Monday, 8 September 2014

In Memoriam: Magda Olivero (March 25, 1910 - September 8, 2014)

In Memoriam:  Magda Olivero (March 25, 1910 - September 8, 2014)

The Last Verista:  Magda Olivero

Twenty fourteen has not been kind to the opera world.  This summer in particular, we've had in quick succession the passing of great tenor Carlo Bergonzi, the beloved soprano Licia Albanese, and now the legendary Magda Olivero in a Milan hospital after she had suffered a stroke earlier. Yes, they all lived to a grand old age, but for the living, their passing can only bring sorrow and pain.  A divine Liu, a dramatically intense Tosca, and a glorious Adriana, Olivero left an indelible mark on the operatic stage. She sang little in North America, and her appearance at the Met was limited to the single role of Tosca, a total of three performances in Lincoln Center in 1975 and seven on tour in 1979. By 1979, Olivero was near 70, an age when practically every other soprano have long retired or are only singing character roles. But the Olivero voice, her powerful sense of drama, indeed her remarkable artistry, remained intact.  Born in Saluzzo in northern Italy in 1910, Olivero studied voice in Torino and made her debut in 1933. She came into prominence in 1938 as Liu in the first complete recording of Turandot, opposite Gina Cigna as the Princess. Her career was cut short in 1941 when she got married and left the lyric stage.  She was persuaded to resume her career in 1951 by composer Francesco Cilea, in the title role of Adriana Lecouvreur, the role most associated with her for the rest of her career.  Her last formal operatic performance was as the woman in Poulenc's La Voix Humaine, but she continued to sing and even made recordings.  Many are available in private labels and now on the internet, particularly Youtube. In 1993 at the age of 83 (!), Olivero recorded arias and scenas from Adriana Lecouvreur.  She remained active in the opera scene in Italy to the end. Requiescat in pace, Magda Olivero.     

Here is the news report from La Repubblica:

And a more extended report from Quotidiano

Here is a video documentary of Olivero on occasion of her 100th birthday:

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