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Olivero made her operatic debut in 1932 on Turin radio in Nino Cattozzo's (1886–1961) oratorio I misteri dolorosi. She performed widely and increasingly successfully until 1941, when she married and retired from performing. She returned to the stage ten years later, at the request of Francesco Cilea, who asked her to sing again the title role in his opera Adriana Lecouvreur.
From 1951 until her final retirement, Olivero sang in opera houses around the world. Among her most renowned interpretations were the leading parts in Adriana Lecouvreur, Iris, Fedora, La bohème, La fanciulla del West, La traviata, La Wally, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, Mefistofele, and Turandot (as Liù.)
She sang in Cherubini's Médée at the Dallas Opera in 1967 and in Kansas City in 1968. In 1975, already an international star for four decades, she made her début at the Metropolitan Opera House in Tosca. Her last performances on stage were in March 1981 in the one-woman opera, La voix humaine by Poulenc. Thus, her stage career ended at age 71 and spanned nearly 50 years. She continued to sing sacred music locally and, well into her eighties, made a recording of several arias. Recordings exist of many of her great performances of both full operas and arias and scenes.
Among her studio recordings are Turandot (as Liù, with Gina Cigna, for Cetra, 1938), Fedora (with Mario Del Monaco and Tito Gobbi, conducted by Lamberto Gardelli, for Decca, 1969) and highlights from Francesca da Rimini (with Del Monaco, conducted by Nicola Rescigno, for Decca, 1969). In 1993, she recorded, with piano accompaniment, Adriana Lecouvreur (with Marta Moretto as the Princesse de Bouillon); excerpts from this recording were published on the Bongiovanni label. At age 86, she performed Adriana's monologue in Jan Schmidt-Garre's film Opera Fanatic. She made occasional singing appearances well into her nineties.