Giulietta Siminiota: opera singer in the 20th century
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Giulietta Simionato

Singer, mezzo soprano - Forlì 12/05/1910 - Rome 05/05/2010

Biography

The story of a voice, not an ordinary one but the voice of the mezzo soprano Giulietta Simionato, one of the most famous and beautiful voices of the twentieth century. The Lady of Bel Canto, lyrical mezzo soprano, Giulietta honoured La Scala of Milan with her elegance and her exquisite musicality.

Born in 1910 in Forlì, she spent her youth in a convent school where her natural singing talent was immediately recognised. She decided to study singing firstly in Rovigo and then in Padua. In 1927 she made her debut in Florence in the Concorso di Bel Canto (Bel Canto competition) with a jury presided over by Umberto Giordano and won an audition at La Scala in Milan.

This audition at the prestigious theatre led to a biennium of perfection and lyrical studies; at the same time she worked in accompanying roles with musicians like Giacomo Lauri Volpi, Beniamino Gigli and Francesco Merli.

In 1947 she performed her first leading role in Mignon by Thomas to great acclaim, making herself known to the Italian and international public. From this moment onwards she was invited to perform in the most famous theaters of the world, at the side of greatly talented performers of the theatre and artistic directors like Toscanini and Di Stefano.

In 1957 she joined Maria Callas on the stage at La Scala in the role of Anna Bolena by Donizetti and in the role of Adalgisa in Norma by Vincenzo Bellini. From 1950 to 1965, the lyrical duet became immensely popular. These theatrical and lyrical opportunities for collaboration sealed the friendship between Giulietta and Maria Callas.

By 1966 Giulietta could boast an extensive repertoire of at least 67 roles (Carmen, Giovanna di Seymour, Leonora, Isabella, Cinderella, Rosina, Azucena, Eboli, Preziosilla, Ulrica, Mrs Quickly, Amneris, Adalgisa, Santuzza, Princess di Bouillon, The Aunt Princess) and the re-interpretation of scores from the past like the Horatiii and Curiatii by Domenico Cimarosa, Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer, The Count Ory and Tancredi by Rossini.

After her marriage to the doctor Cesare Frugoni, she led a private life moving from Milan to Rome where she was welcomed with open arms by the Nardis family.

Here she died on May 5th 2010.

Anecdotes and curiosities

The director Di Stefano got carried away with his demonstration and accidentally jerked Giulietta dislocating her shoulder.

At her first audition at La Scala in Milan she was judged to be immature and was only given accompanying roles.

Giulietta Simionato was honorary president of the Maria Callas Association.

Related places

La Scala Theatre in Milan.

Giulietta Simionato made her debut here in 1947 and then performed here many times throughout her life.

Via Porta Tenaglia, Milan.

The house where Giulietta Simionato lived for many years after the death of her third husband; she then moved to Rome.

“Giuseppe Verdi” retirement home for musicians in piazzale Buonarroti, Milan.

Giulietta Simionato was on the Board of Administrators.

Sources and documents

Matteo Persivale, Corriere della Sera, Thursday May 6th 2010

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