20 June 2016

Giannina Arangi-Lombardi – opera singer

Soprano’s superb voice was captured in early recordings

Photo of Giannina Arangi-Lombardi
Giannina Arangi-Lombardi
Soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi was born on this day in 1891 in Marigliano near Naples in Campania.

She studied singing at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella in Naples and made her debut on the stage in Rome in 1920. Arangi-Lombardi sang mezzo-soprano roles for the next three years at theatres in Rome, Sicily, Parma, Florence and Naples.

She then underwent further study and returned to the stage as what is known as a spinto soprano, a singer who can reach the high notes of the lyric soprano but can also achieve dramatic climaxes with her voice.

Arangi-Lombardi’s second debut, this time as a soprano, was in 1923. The first time she sang the role of Aida in Verdi's opera of the same name the audience was stunned by her voice and her fame quickly spread.

She appeared on stage at Teatro alla Scala in Milan for the first time in 1924 singing Elena in Boito’s Mefistofele. The orchestra for her debut performance was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.

She sang regularly at La Scala until 1930 and appeared at many other opera houses in Europe as well as in South America.

She took part in Dame Nellie Melba’s farewell tour of Australia in 1928, when she sang the title role in the Australian premiere of Puccini’s Turandot.

After retiring from the stage in 1938 Arangi-Lombardi taught at the music conservatory in Milan and then later became director of the music conservatory in Ankara in Turkey.

Arangi-Lombardi died in Milan in 1951 a few weeks after celebrating her 60th birthday.

Her voice can still be heard today in the recordings she made of full length operas between 1929 and 1931.

Photo of Teatro alla Scala
Teatro alla Scala in Milan
Travel tip:

La Scala in Milan, where Arangi-Lombardi appeared regularly, has a fascinating museum that displays costumes and memorabilia from the history of opera. The entrance is in Largo Ghiringhelli, just off Piazza Scala. It is open every day except the Italian Bank Holidays and for a few days when it is closed in December. Opening hours are from 9.00 to 12.30 and 1.30 to 5.30 pm.

Travel tip: 

Milan’s Conservatory of Music (Conservatorio di Musica ‘Giuseppe Verdi’) is in Via Conservatorio, just off Via Pietro Mascagni, behind the Duomo and just a short walk from Teatro alla Scala. 

Read more:

Cecilia Bartoli renowned for interpretations of Rossini and Mozart


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