26 November 2015

Amelita Galli-Curci soprano

Singer’s beautiful voice lives on thanks to early recordings

Amelita Galli-Curci, one of the most popular Italian opera singers and recording artists of the early 20th century, died on this day in 1963.

Galli-Curci was a ‘coloratura’ soprano and her voice has been described as ‘florid, vibrant, agile and able to perform trills.’

Although she was largely self-taught her voice was much admired and it has been claimed she was encouraged to become an opera singer by composer Pietro Mascagni, who was a family friend.

The Duomo is at the heart of Milan's music district, close to La Scala opera house.
Milan's Duomo, in the heart of the 'music' district
She was born Amelita Galli in Milan in 1881 and studied the piano at the Milan Conser-
vatory, which is in the centre of the city close to the Duomo. She made her stage debut as a soprano at Trani in 1906, singing Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. She was widely acclaimed and her career took off from there.

In 1908 she married an Italian nobleman, the Marquese Luigi Curci and she subsequently attached his surname to hers. She remained known as Amelita Galli-Curci even after they divorced.

She sang in just two performances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lamermoor with Enrico Caruso in Buenos Aires in 1915 but they went on to make wonderful recordings together.

Galli-Curci enjoyed immediate success in America after appearing as Gilda in Rigoletto in Chicago. It was while performing there in 1916 that she signed a contract with a recording company. Her voice can still be heard on surviving 78 rpm recordings and some of these have been copied on to vinyl and subsequently on to CD. Galli-Curci’s ‘Caro nome’ from Rigoletto is considered one of the greatest operatic recordings ever made.

She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1921 as Violetta in La Traviata and remained with the Met until ill health prompted her to retire from the stage in 1930.

She lived in California, where she taught singing, until her death at the age of 81.

Travel tip:

Milan’s Conservatory of Music (Conservatorio di Musica ‘Giuseppe Verdi’) is in Via Conservatorio, just off Via Pietro Mascagni, behind the Duomo. It is just a short walk from there to Teatro alla Scala in Piazza della Scala, with its fascinating museum focusing on the history of opera.

Travel tip

Trani, where Amelita Galli-Curci made her stage debut as a soprano, is a charming old port on the Adriatic in the region of Puglia. A major landmark is the 12th century Cattedrale di San Nicola Pellegrino, an imposing building overlooking the sea. Close by is the Castello Svevo, which was built to defend Trani in the 13th century.

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