Four Famous Italian Mezzo - Sopranos

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Lebendige Vergangenheit

Irene Minghini Cattaneo was born on April 12, 1892 in Lugo di Romagna near Ravenna. She received her first instruction from Maestro Cicognani, later from Ettore Cattaneo, whom she married on March 22, 1920. She made her debut as Azucena in "11 Trovatore" in 1918, followed by abrief guest appearance in Mascagni's "Isabeau" in Brescia. Performances at the leading ltalian theatres established her reputation and brought her invitations to Zürich and Nice. From 1925 onward she was a regular guest in Verona and from 1928 a member of La Scala in Milan, where she celebrated brilliant triumphs. During the following years she guested at Covent Garden, where she appeared with Dusolina Giannini and Aureliano Pertile in "Aida", with Fyodor Shalyapin and Margherita Carosio in "Boris Godunov" and with Rosa Ponselle in "Norma" and "La Gioconda". Although Irene Minghini Cattaneo was never heard in North America, she made frequent guest appearances in Egypt, Germany, Austria, South America, Greece and Spain. During the last years of her stage career she also attempted roles for dramatic soprano, as in "Falstaff' and "Un Ballo in Maschera". Her repertoire comprised 27 roles, among them Isolde and Elsa in "Lohengrin" which she performed occasionally. She made her farewell as La Cieca in "La Gioconda" in Milan on February 12, 1941 and died on March 24, 1944 in her villa in Rimini the victim of an enemy air attack. Gianna Pederzini was born near Trento on February 10th 1900. As a very young girl she went to Naples to become the last master student of the great Fernando De Lucia. When he died in 1925 Pederzini had not been able to finish her studies with him. In 1923, ignoring the waming of her teacher, who had always advised her not to accept any premature engagements, she made her debut as Preziosilla in "La forza del destino" at the Teatro Mercadante in Naples. This was followed by several troublesome years in the Italian province where she accepted even small roles like the Musico in "Manon Lescaut". She celebrated her first big successes in 1929/30 and from there on was engaged at all impor­ tant Italian opera houses in major roles. Although Pederzini had debuted,_ at London's Covent Garden Opera already in 1931, again as Preziosilla (with Ponselle, Pertile, Franci and Pasero) and as Maddalena in "Rigoletto" (with Gigli, Borgioli and Franci), she was not heard too often outside of Italy. Her Cherubino in Rome in 1932 was very well acclaimed and she repeated this success later in the same role at "La Scala". Very soon she became the "Scala's" leading interpreter of the lighter roles in the mezzo­ soprano repertoire, especially as Carmen, Mignon, Charlotte in "Werther" (with Schipa), Maddalena and Preziosilla. Her secure upper register and the bright sound of her voice enabled her to sing also roles from the soprano-repertoire, like Santuzza, Fedora, Rosa Mamai in "L'Arlesiana" and Katjuscha in Alfano's "Risurrezione". She appeared regularly at the Teatro Colon, in Paris and in Berlin, but, surprisingly, had never returned to London and never sang in North-America. Americans only got to know her through her appearances at the festivals in Florence and Verona. After Conchita Supervia's early death Pederzini was the first mezzo-soprano who took charge of the Rossini repertoire andin 1937 she was a celebrated Cenerentola at "La Scala" where she also inter­ preted "L'Italiana in Algeri". For an Italian singer her career was a rather long one and in 1957 she still sang in the world premiere of Poulenc's "Les Dialogues des Carmelites". It is regrettable that neither before nor during the war Pederzini had been cast in a complete opera recording; only in 1952 she took part in a recording of "L'Arlesiana" where her partners were Emma Tegani, Juan Oncina and Aldo Protti. lt was to be her last one. Gianna Pederzini bade farewell to the stage in 1961 and Spent the rest of her life teaching and advising young singers in Rome where she died on March 12th 1988. Ebe Stignani was born in Naples on July 11th 1903. She got her musical training at the Conservatorio musicale S. Pietro a Majella in Naples. She studied a broad range of subjects, including piano playing and composition. After five years at the Conservatory she was immediately hired by Naples's famous Teatro San Carlo where, in 1925, she made her debut in one of the toughest of all operatic roles, Amneris in Verdi's "Aida". Other roles in her first season were Eboli in "Don Carlo", Meg in "Falstaff' and Aldagisa in Bellini's "Norma". In 1926 she added another famous and especially successful part to her repertoire, Azucena in "Trovatore". In that year the young singer was engaged by Arturo Toscanini for La Scala in Milan, with Eboli as her first role. From 1926 until 1953 Ebe Stignani was, without any lengthy breaks, a member of the La Scala ensemble and was regarded as its leading exponent of dramatic alto and mezzo roles. In addition to appearing in Italian operas, she was heard in French roles (Carmen, Dalila, Mignon) and in the German repertoire (Brangäne, Ortrud, Gutrune in "Götterdämmerung", among others). In 1927 she made her first guest appearance at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, a house in which she had a series of great successes in the ensuing years. In 1937 she made her debut at London's Covent Garden Opera as Amneris. Extensive guest tours took her to many cities in South America, to Monaco, Berlin and other musical centers. An important part of her work as a singer was her interest in reviving older operas such as "Semiramis" by Rossini, "Linda di Chamounix" and "La Favorita" by Donizetti. A brilliant role in later years was Orfeo in Gluck's opera. She sang some of these roles at the Maggio musicale in Florence, where she made several enthusiastically received guest appearances. Ebe Stignani sang more than one hundred roles in a career that lasted more than three decades. Her last appearance was in Florence in 1957, as Ulrica in Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera". She died on October 5th 1974 …