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Varischi & Artico
Manskopf Collection / Sammlung Manskopf
Courtesy of the Manskopf Collection / Sammlung Manskopf, Universitőtsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main (F10060)
Luisa Tetrazzini (1871-1941), Italian soprano
The Luisa Tetrazzini, younger sister of soprano Eva Tetrazzini, was born 29 June 1871 in Florence. She studied voice with her sister, and the singers Contrucci and Ceccherini before making her debut as Ines in Meyerbeer's opera, "L'Africana," in 1890. She toured extensively from 1891 thorough 1906 in Italy, Eastern Europe, South America, Spain and Mexico. Her first appearance at Covent Garden, London was in 1907 as Violetta and she came back each season till 1912 appearing as Gilda, Lucia, Amina, and as Marguerite in "Les Huguenots."
Oscar Hammerstein made contract with Tetrazzini to sing at the Manhattan Opera beginning in 1908 and she won the audiences at his theatre in the roles of Lakme, Dinorah, and Elvira from the opera, "I Puritani." She finally did sing at the Metropolitan, but only made eight appearances there during the 1911-12 season. She also sang at the opera stages of Chicago and Boston between 1911 and 1914. After the end of World War I, she was seen primarily in recitals and concert. She continued to do concerts until her last appearance in London in 1934.
Luisa Tetrazzini had exceptional well-trained voice that could accomplish the most difficult roles which helped her to gain "international fame." She made many recordings which comfirm her vocal expertise. She was described as witty and good-natured with a flair for the comic stage roles. To her misfortune she was considered the heftiest of her compatriots, "a woman of Rubenesque proportions" who was also short in stature. This detracted from her acting, but her vocal abilities excelled offering her audience and peer acclaim.
Tetrazzini was married three times and her husbands helped to deplete her fortunes. The recital and concert schedule which followed her opera stage years provided necessary income for the aging singer. By the time of her death on 28 April 1941, in Milan, her money was gone and the state provided for her funeral.
(Kindly contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, June 2007)