Toti Dal Monte
(27 June 1893 – 26 January 1975)
Toti Dal Monte was a celebrated Italian soprano with a sweet and fluid lyric voice.
She left a recorded legacy (including some with Debussy himself at the piano) which is evidence of a very fine voice.
Born Antonietta Meneghel she adopted the stage name Toti Dal Monte and became a favourite of the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini.
One of her most significant contributions to the history of opera is an outstanding complete recording of Cio Cio San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly made 1939 with Benjamino Gigli.
Although the role is normally heavier than one that might be considered "ideal" for her, the recording is outstanding because she sounds believably more like the girl that Cio Cio San is meant to be.
She was just seventeen when she debuted at La Scala, Milan in the role of Biancofiore in Riccardo Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini. She was an overnight success.
Toti Dal Monte became best known for the bel canto roles of Amina (in Bellini’s La Sonnambula), Lucia (in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor) and Gilda (in Verdi’s Rigoletto) and later added Cio-cio-san, Gilda, and the title heroine in Alfredo Catalani's La Wally to her repertoire.
In 1924 Nellie Melba engaged her to take part in a company tour to Australia. It was an unqualified success and two other tours followed.
During the third tour in 1928 she married the tenor Enzo de Muro Lomanto in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney to much curiosity of the local Sydneysiders.
She sang the premier performance the next year in the role of Rosalina in Il Re by Umberto Giordano. The role had been specifically written for her.
She retired from the opera stage in 1945 but she continued to work in the theatre and made the occassional recording.
“La Toti” as she was affectionately called, died at the age of 81 in Italy, leaving an extensive legacy of 78-rpm recordings, many of which are available today on CD.
She is pictured here as Violetta in La Traviata (one can only hope the costume looked better in real life than it does here) :)