(Born July 22, 1909- Died August 15th 2014) =105
Italian born American Licia Albanese was a legendary performer whose career mainly centred around the Metropolitan Opera in New York although she also performed at La Scala, The Royal Opera, The Paris Opera and the San Francisco Opera.
Famed for her performances of the lyric heroines of Verdi and Puccini, she was particularly identified as the doomed Geisha, Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly. Over 40 years, Licia sang the role no less than 300 times.
Aside from concerts and recitals, Arturo Toscanini recorded with her, and she had her own radio show.
Her Licia Albanese- Puccini Foundation in New York is dedicated to assisting young singers. In 1985 she came out of retirement to take part in Follies by Stephen Sondheim and two years later she starred in a hugely successful revival of Follies in Houston, Texas.
In an interview she said "I had timing and luck in my career, but most important, I had qualita. I listen to young singers all the time. Most of them can do anything. But the sound! Where is the qualita ? I don't know if I could do it today. I'm not sure Beniamino Gigli and Schipa could. Why? The conductors.
"All the conductors in my day could adjust to the voices in a cast. Now they can't or won't. Toscanini could adjust. That, plus my technique, is why I could do some of the parts I did. That beautiful smile of Tullio Serafin looking up at you from the pit, supporting you, encouraging you."
Licia Albanese's last appearance at the Met was at the closing gala at the old house, April 16, 1966. She sang "Un bel di" from Madama Butterfly- what else? In a wonderful moment, spontaneous, she says,she kissed her hand, knelt and touched it to the floor.
Licia Albanese is one of the featured stars on our "Legends" product range.