Antonietta Stella

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Antonietta Stella (March 15, 1929, Perugia, Italy as Maria Antonietta Stella) is an Italian operatic soprano, one of the finest Italian spinto sopranos of the 1950s and 1960s, possessing a beautiful and ample voice, and particularly associated with Verdi and Puccini roles.

Stella studied at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and made her debut in Spoleto, as Leonora in Il trovatore, in 1950, and appeared at the Rome Opera in 1951, as Leonora in La forza del destino. She quickly sang throughout Italy, Florence, Naples, Parma, Turin, Catania, Verona, Venice, etc., and made her debut at La Scala in Milan, as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, in 1954, where she sang regularly to great acclaim until 1963, in roles such as Violetta in La traviata, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, the title roles in Aida and Tosca, Mimi in La bohème, Maddalena in Andrea Chénier, Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, etc.

In 1955, she made her debuts at the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House in London, the Palais Garnier in Paris, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the following year, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where she successfully sang until 1960. In 1958 she had a particular success in a new Metropolitan production of Madama Butterfly designed in the manner of Japanese woodblock prints. Her assimilation of Japanese physicality and gesture was particularly praised. Her Leonore in Il Trovatore was also presented in a new production at the Metropolitan to public and critical acclaim. Stella was an elegant, glamorous figure on stage and an accomplished actress.

Stella, like so many notable artists of the 1950s and 60s, was somewhat eclipsed by the competition between Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, but she did have a notable career and left several very worthwhile recordings, including works such as Linda di Chamounix, La battaglia di Legnano, L'Africaine, Simon Boccanegra, which is more than can be said for some other singers of the time. She appeared in an Italian television production of Andrea Chénier, opposite Mario del Monaco and Giuseppe Taddei in 1955, recently released on DVD. She can also be heard on an Italian radio broadcast of Spontini's rarely performed work Agnes von Hohenstaufen, opposite Montserrat Caballé, released on CD.

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