Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Licia Albanese Debuted At The Metropolitan Opera Today in 1940


"Con onore muore" Madama Butterfly
On February 9, 1940, Licia Albanese made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the role of Cio-Cio San for Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Her co-stars included Charles Kullman (Pinkerton), Lucielle Browning (Suzuki), Richard Bonelli (Sharpless) and Alessio De Paolis (Goro). The production was directed by Désiré Defrère and conducted by Gennaro Papi. She went on to sing nearly 80 appearances as Cio-Cio San and give a total of 428 performances at the MET in La Bohème, Carmen, Le Nozze di Figaro, Faust, La Traviata, Cavalleria Rusticana, Otello, Manon Lescaut and Tosca. She had the distinct honor to be one of the artists to sing on the Farewell Concert to the Old Metropolitan Opera House on April 16, 1966, and the Gala Opening of the new MET at Lincoln Center on June 28, 1966. According to records, the soprano will be 98 (some say 102) years old this July.

"A new Butterfly, in the person of Licia Albanese, who then made her Metropolitan debut, was seen last night in the title part of Puccini's opera. She quickly won the audience's approval by the freshness of feeling, the interest of detail in her performance and the prevailing, eloquence of her song. It need not be claimed that the voice is a. great one, but it has beauty and sensuous color, and is employed with interpretive resource. It is true that the love scene fell short, where the soprano was concerned, because it, needed a broader line, more opulence of tone and intensity of feeling." - Olin Downes in The New York Times [Source]

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