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Elvira de Hidalgo

Elvira de Hidalgo (1892 - 1980), was a Spanish soprano and singing teacher, whose best-known student was Maria Callas. Of all Callas's teachers, de Hidalgo probably had the greatest influence on her technique and career.

She was born in Valderrobres, Teruel Province (Spain). She had a significant singing career as a coloratura soprano before becoming a teacher at the Athens Conservatoire. She made several recordings for Columbia and Fonotipia. Her "Una voce poco fa" from Rossini's The Barber of Seville is typical of the singing of the excellently-trained singers of the turn of the century. Her timbre, ease of production and great agility are all hallmarks of the kind of singing technique which such teachers as Mathilde Marchesi taught in the late 19th century. She was not, however, a pupil of Marchesi but of Melchiorre Vidal, who also taught Maria Barrientos, Graziella Pareto, Julián Gayarre, Fernando Valero, Francesco Vignas and Rosina Storchio. She died in Milan, Italy in 1980.

Maria Callas received the rigorous and well-defined training of this Italian school of singing from her teacher. Callas's immaculate ornamentation, smooth scales, skillful use of her vocal registers all reflect the training of this vocal method. It is known that Callas attended the voice lessons of all her singing colleagues at the Athens Conservatoire, and this is likely to have greatly informed her own style and artistry.

File:Elvira de
Elvira de Hidalgo, 1920s.

Elvira de Hidalgo (born December 27, 1892; died January 21, 1980, in Milan) was a prominent Spanish coloratura soprano, who later became a pedagogue. Her most famous pupil was Maria Callas.

File:Maria Callas.
Maria Callas with Elvira de Hidalgo.

She was born in Valderrobres, Teruel Province (Spain), and made her debut at the age of sixteen, at Naples' Teatro San Carlo, as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, which would become her best-known role. She was a pupil of Melchiorre Vidal, who also taught Maria Barrientos, Graziella Pareto, Julián Gayarre, Fernando Valero, Francesco Vignas, and Rosina Storchio.

Following her debut, de Hidalgo was quickly engaged for Paris, where she sang Rosina opposite Feodor Chaliapin as Don Basilio. Appearances in Monte-Carlo, Prague, and Cairo followed.

Her debut with the New York Metropolitan Opera occurred in 1910, as Rosina. With that company, de Hidalgo sang in Rigoletto (with Enrico Caruso) and La sonnambula (with Alessandro Bonci) in the same season. She would return to the Met in 1924-25, for Il barbiere di Siviglia (directed by Armando Agnini), Rigoletto (conducted by Tullio Serafin), and Lucia di Lammermoor (with Beniamino Gigli).

Following that New York debut, she sang in Florence, in Linda di Chamounix and Don Giovanni (as Zerlina, opposite Mattia Battistini). She also portrayed Rosina in Rome, in 1911.

In 1916, she made her debut with the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, as Rosina, which she repeated there in 1921. The following year, de Hidalgo appeared in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Colón, in Rigoletto, La traviata, and Il barbiere. In 1924, she appeared in London with the British National Opera Company, at Covent Garden, in Rigoletto. That same year, she sang Lakmé and Il barbiere in Chicago.

She recorded for Columbia, in 1907-08, with arias from Il barbiere, La sonnambula, and I puritani committed to disc. In 1909-10, she made discs for Fonotipia, with excerpts recorded from Il barbiere, Don Pasquale, La sonnambula, Roméo et Juliette, Dinorah, L'elisir d'amore, Don Giovanni, and Mireille. She apparently returned to the Columbia studios, in 1925, to record a performance of the "Mad Scene" from Dinorah.

De Hidalgo began teaching in 1933, and later held a position at the Athens Conservatoire, where the young soprano Callas became her student. In 1957, Callas wrote of the woman who had an "essential role" in her artistic formation:

It is to this illustrious Spanish artist, whom the public and the old subscribers at La Scala will certainly recall as an unforgettable and superlative Rosina and as a splendid interpreter of other important roles, it is to this illustrious artist, I repeat, with a moved, devoted, and grateful heart, that I owe all my preparation and my artistic formation as an actress and musician. This elect woman, who, besides giving me her precious teaching, gave me her whole heart as well ... .


  • Callas, As They Saw Her, by David Allan Lowe, The Ungar Publishing Company, 1986. ISBN 0-8044-5636-4
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, by John Warrack & Ewan West, Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-280028-0

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