Gabriella Tucci, 90, Dies; Italian Soprano and Met Opera Mainstay


Ms. Tucci continued her studies at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Rome conservatory, working with the vocal coach Leonardo Filoni. They married in 1955; he died in 1993. In addition to her granddaughter, Ms. Tucci is survived by two sons, Fabio and Andrea Filoni.

She made her debut in a leading role as Leonora in Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” at Spoleto in 1951, opposite the celebrated tenor Beniamino Gigli, then 61. “I had to learn the role, and I was a little bit afraid to face it,” she said in the Opera News interview. But she had six months to prepare. “It was really emotional for me to sing with this god,” she said. “But he was very kind. He said ‘Brava, brava.’”

Appearances followed in Florence, Venice and, in 1959, Milan, where she made her debut at La Scala as Mimì in Puccini’s “La Bohème.” The next year she sang the title roles of “Aida” and “Tosca” at Covent Garden in London.

Following her American debut with the San Francisco Opera, Ms. Tucci made her Metropolitan Opera debut in October 1960 as Cio-Cio-San in “Madama Butterfly,” winning strong reviews. She went on to sing 259 performances with the Met in 20 roles, mostly in works by Verdi and Puccini.

She appeared in four new productions, including Verdi’s “Falstaff” in 1964, which was also the Met debut of both the director Franco Zeffirelli and the conductor Leonard Bernstein. That Rudolf Bing, the Met’s general manager at the time, valued Ms. Tucci was clear from the double-duty assignment he gave her on April 16, 1966, the company’s last day at its old house: She sang Mimì at the Saturday matinee and took part in the gala farewell to the house that night, ending the program in a performance of the final trio from Gounod’s “Faust” (with the tenor Nicolai Gedda and the bass Jerome Hines).

She fared equally well in the new house. Reviewing her as Liù in Puccini’s “Turandot” in 1968, Harold C. Schonberg of The New York Times wrote: “Has the first-act aria ‘Signore, ascolta’ been sung more touchingly, more artistically, more elegantly in recent years? One doubts it.”

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