Luisa Tetrazzini (soprano) was born in 1871 at Florence, Italy. Her early musical training was under her sister Eva (Madame Campanini) and she also studied under Ceccherini at the Liceo Musicale in Florence. Her debut was in 1895 at the Teatro Pagliani as Inez in Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, and her first in a major role as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata in Rio de Janeiro. She sang successfully in many major opera houses including in South America, Italy, Spain and Russia; her first appearance in the English-speaking world was at San Francisco. She appeared first at Covent Garden in 1907, again as Violetta, where she was acclaimed and became one of the top opera stars of her time. The major part of her career took place before World War One, during which she remained in Italy, working and singing for the war charities. After the war she continued to make concert appearances and taught singing in Milan. She died in 1940.

Although, in common with many singers of her time, she was not much of an actress, her voice was remarkable for its purity and great range, with an extraordinary coloratura technique.

'OMBRA LEGGERA' (SHADOW SONG) ('Dinorah') (Meyerbeer)
HMV DB534 (2-053207) recorded in 1912

This is a classic show-off warhorse of the type popular at turn of the century, complete with trills, runs and echo effects: Tetrazzini's technique is well caught, showing a stunning clarity and control of pitch. The transfer has been done at 78rpm: her lower notes have a slightly odd 'flat' quality (tone colour, not pitch) but this is still evident at lower speeds and is I think as recorded and not due to the speed, which seems correct. The recording has been digitally noise reduced (see the note on the introduction page).

If you would like to download this recording you can do so from this page.

Like Caruso and Melba, Tetrazzini was honoured by having the dish Chicken Tetrazzini (created by the famous chef Escoffier) named after her.

There are more recordings by Tetrazzini on my page here.