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Giulietta Simionato (born May 12, 1910) is an Italian mezzo-soprano and one of the great singers of the post-war operatic stage. Her career spanned from the 1930s until her retirement in 1966. Simionato was much admired for vibrant singing in a remarkably wide repertoire, excelling in both dramatic and comic roles and in lyric and heavier repertoire. She was in demand at every major opera house and worked with the greatest conductors of the time. She had a special rapport with both the reigning sopranos of her day, Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, and was widely admired by colleagues and audiences alike for her warmth, sense of humor and professionalism.

Simionato was born in Forlì, Italy. She studied in Rovigo and Padua and made her operatic debut at Montagnana in 1928. The first fifteen years of her career proved a frustration as she was only given small parts, however she attracted growing attention in the late 1940s, and by the end of her career was recognised as one of the most respected singers of her generation. In 1936, she made her debut at La Scala and appeared there regularly between 1936 and 1966. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1953, where she likewise appeared regularly between 1963 and 1965. In 1959, Simionato made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera. Simionato also appeared at the Edinburgh Festival (1947), the San Francisco Opera (1953), the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos (1954), the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1954-61), the Vienna State Opera (from 1956), and the Salzburg Festival.

Simionato had a large repertory including Rossini's Rosina and Cinderella, Charlotte in Werther, and Carmen. She also excelled in the Verdian repertoire, as Amneris, Eboli and Azucena, and as Mascagni's Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana. She was a major recording artist, and in addition many of her performances were broadcast live on the radio and also captured on film. She retired in 1966 and has continued to inspire admiration through teaching and various directorial positions, with amazing vitality even in her 90s.

She was featured in Daniel Schmid's award-winning 1984 documentary Il Bacio di Tosca, (Tosca's Kiss) as well as in a hilarious interview by Stefan Zucker in Jan Schmidt-Garre's 1999 film, Opera Fanatic .

References

H. Rosenthal and J.Warrack, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 462.

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