Tetrazzini Luisa

29 June 1871, Florence - 28 April 1940, Milan
Italian opera singer (coloratura soprano) and vocal teacher.


Luisa Tetrazzini was born in Florence into a family of military man. According to contemporaries, the girl started singing at the age of three. Her sister the opera singer Eva Tetrazzini was her first vocal teacher. Luisa then studied at the Music Institute of Florence.

The singer debuted at the stage at the age of 19. The story of her first performance is interesting. The Tetrazzini family was in the opera house auditorium when, before the beginning, the conductor apologized to the audience, saying that the performance would not take place since the singer who was to sing the title role was ill. Louisa stood up from her seat and offered herself as a substitute. The performance was excellent. The same year she was singing in Rome for the King and Queen of Italy.

During the early stages of her musical career Tetrazzini worked in the Italian provincial theatres and toured extensively, earning special success in St Petersburg. She sang in Spain and South America. The singer’s repertoire in the 1890s mainly was comprised of lyrico-dramatic parts.

In 1899, in St. Petersburg she performed for the first time with the world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso, who sang the part of Edgardo in “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. The role of Lucia has been the favorite one for Luisa for many years. In 1905, she made her first appearance in San Francisco as Gilda in “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi

The singer's Covent Garden debut in London in 1907 was extremely significant. After this performance, Tetrazzini finally gain iconic status. She sang the part of Violetta in “La Traviata” by Verdi in London. The same role started her performances in New York with the Manhattan Opera Company.

From 1911 to 1914 Tetrazzini sang with the Chicago Grand Opera Company and the Boston Opera Company.

During the First World War, she sang for the Italian troops. After 1915, she retired from the opera stage and gave concerts in Italy, Great Britain and the USA (1916-1932). Later she lived in Milan and taught singing. She wrote her memoirs "My Life is like a song" in 1921 and a treatise "How to Sing" in 1923. The thirty-two-years long career of Luisa Tetrazzini was rather successful. She was considered one of the most prominent soprano singers of the first quarter of the 20th century. Her best-known parts are -- Rosina (“The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini), Violetta (“La Traviata”) and Gilda (“Rigoletto”).

Tetrazzini had an unusually adaptable, free-flowing voice with the beautiful timbre and wide range, with sonorous upper register. Virtuoso coloratura mastery (trills, roulades, fiorituras, ascending and descending passages, contrasts of legato and staccato), refinement of phrasing, ease of sound emission suggest that Luisa Tetrazzini was the successor and heiress to the bel canto masters. Despite her age-related obesity and short stature, she preserved vivaciousness and artistry on stage.

None of her three marriages worked out happily. Her last husband squandered her fortune and obliged her to give concerts even in her golden age, when her voice perished with age. The singer died in need in Milan, the state paid for her funeral