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Baglioni [Poggi], Clementina  

Barbara Dobbs MacKenzie

Member of Baglioni family (opera)

(fl 1753–88). Italian soprano, daughter of Francesco Baglioni. In 1753–9 she toured northern Italy with her father and one or two sisters, appearing in five comic operas at Venice in 1754–5. She also performed there in 1760–65 and 1775–8. Although best known for comic roles, she also sang in opera seria, appearing at Turin in 1759–60 (Galuppi’s La clemenza di Tito, Traetta’s Enea nel Lazio) and at Parma in 1761 and 1763 (J. C. Bach’s Catone in Utica). In 1762 she was in Milan and Vienna (Hasse’s Il trionfo di Clelia) and in 1767 in Naples, by which time she had married Domenico Poggi. She returned to Vienna where, in 1768, Mozart wrote for her the elaborate part of Rosina in La finta semplice, which however she never performed. She sang in Vienna in 1772–4 with her sisters Costanza and Rosina, and may have done so in Paris in ...

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Baglioni, Giovanna  

Barbara Dobbs MacKenzie

Member of Baglioni family (opera)

(fl 1752–1770s). Italian soprano, daughter of Francesco Baglioni. She began her career singing with her father in productions of comic opera. Her first role was Eugenia, a serious part in Galuppi’s comic Arcifanfano, re dei matti (1752, Parma). She continued to sing serious roles in productions of comic opera in northern Italy with her father and her sisters in the early 1760s; by ...

Article

Bannister, Elizabeth  

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[née Harper]

Member of Bannister family

(bap. Bath, Nov 22, 1757; d London, Jan 15, 1849). English soprano. She was admired as a charming woman with a pure voice and unadorned singing style. Most of her stage career was spent in summer seasons at the Haymarket, where she sang from 1778 and created many roles in operas by Shield and Arnold, including Eliza in The Flitch of Bacon and Laura in The Agreeable Surprise. She also sang in concerts and was at Covent Garden from 1781 to 1786, creating the title role in Shield’s Rosina. She married the actor John Bannister in 1783, reputedly teaching him to sing and turning him into a model husband and father. She retired in 1792 to ‘trim Friendship’s lamp round her family fire’.

BDALSA. Pasquin [pseud. of J. Williams]: The Children of Thespis, 2 (London, 1787,13/1792)‘Mrs Bannister’, Thespian Magazine, 1 (1792),117–18J. O’Keeffe...

Article

Brambilla, Teresa  

Elizabeth Forbes

Member of Brambilla family

(b Cassano d’Adda, Oct 23, 1813; d Milan, July 15, 1895). Italian soprano, sister of Marietta Brambilla. She made her début in Milan in 1831 and sang throughout Italy with great success for 15 years. In 1846 she appeared in Paris as Abigaille in ...

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Brambilla-Ponchielli, Teresa  

Elizabeth Forbes

[Teresina]

Member of Brambilla family

(b Cassano d’Adda, April 15, 1845; d Vercelli, July 1, 1921). Italian soprano, niece of Marietta Brambilla. She studied with her aunts Marietta and Teresa. She made her début in 1863 as Adalgisa at Odessa, afterwards singing in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, St Petersburg and Italy. In ...

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Devriès, Fidès  

Elizabeth Forbes

Member of Devriès family

(b New Orleans, April 22, 1851; d 1941). Dutch soprano, daughter of Rosa de Vries-van Os. She studied in Paris and made her début in 1869 at the Théâtre Lyrique in Halévy’s Le val d’Andorre. After singing at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, in 1871 she was engaged at the Paris Opéra, making her début as Marguerite, later singing Isabelle (Robert le diable), Inès (L’Africaine) and Ophelia, which she sang in the 100th performance of Hamlet (1874). At the Théâtre Italien she sang Amelia (Simon Boccanegra) and Salome (Hérodiade), then in 1885 she created Chimène in Massenet’s Le Cid at the Opéra. She sang Elsa in the first Paris performance of Lohengrin at the Eden-Théâtre in 1887. In Monte Carlo she added Aida, Violetta and Leïla (Les pêcheurs de perles) to her repertory and in ...

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Devriès, Jeanne  

Elizabeth Forbes

Member of Devriès family

(b New Orleans, before July 1850; d 1924). Dutch soprano, daughter of Rosa de Vries-van Os. She studied with Duprez in Paris, making her début there in 1867 at the Théâtre Lyrique as Amina (La sonnambula). The same year she created Catharine in Bizet’s ...

Article

Dramatic soprano  

J.B. Steane

A type of soprano voice. The term admits a wide variety of repertory and voice type. Any claimant to it must possess a powerful voice and a style capable of energetic emphasis; yet at one end of the spectrum is the singer whose best roles may be, for example, the respective Leonoras of Il trovatore and La forza del destino, and at the other is the singer who encompasses the heaviest of the Wagnerian soprano parts, Brünnhilde and Isolde. The first type may be described as lyric-dramatic and the second as heroic. The more narrowly defined dramatic soprano would then look for parts such as Aida, Lady Macbeth and Abigaille in Verdi, Senta, Elisabeth and Kundry in Wagner, Leonore in Fidelio, and the title roles in Medea and possibly Turandot (the last of these raises a problem for many dramatic sopranos on account of the high tessitura; it is beyond the reasonable ambitions of those who have an admixture of mezzo-soprano in the voice). Contrasted voices which might still come within the general category of dramatic soprano are, for instance, those of Jessye Norman (an exceptionally full-bodied sound, shaded towards the mezzo and nearer to the lyric-dramatic) and, in an earlier generation, Eva Turner, whose voice was pure soprano but of such penetrative power that the heaviest Wagnerian roles came within its scope and with such brilliance in the upper register that it was ideal for Turandot....

Article

Falcon  

J.B. Steane

Term for a type of voice, presumed to have been exemplified by Cornélie Falcon , the dramatic soprano who sang Rachel in the première of La Juive (1835) and Valentine in that of Les Huguenots (1836). Her voice was exceptionally powerful, dramatic in quality and ample in the middle register. Mainly in France, or in association with the French repertory, ‘falcon’ has survived as a word which denotes a soprano of this type. Félia Litvinne and her pupil Germaine Lubin, both of whom sang Wagnerian roles such as Isolde and Kundry, would come under this heading. As Falcon herself sang last in ...

Article

Falcon, Ruth  

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Residence, LA, Nov 2, 1946; d New York, Oct 9, 2020). American soprano. She studied at Tulane University and in New York, and made her début in 1974 as Micaëla with the New York City Opera. She sang in Mayr’s Medea in Corinto at Berne in 1975, then joined the Bayerische Staatsoper; she also sang in Berlin, Brussels, Houston, Boston, Toronto, Venice, Florence, Strasbourg, Lyons, Toulouse, Aix-en-Provence, and at the Paris Opéra. Her repertory includes Countess Almaviva, Electra (Idomeneo), Donna Anna, Agathe, Desdemona, Leonora (Il trovatore and La forza del destino), Amelia (Il duca d’Alba), Norma, Julia (La vestale), Salome (Hérodiade), Anne Boleyn, Elsa, and Ariadne. She first sang at Covent Garden in 1987 as the Empress (Die Frau ohne Schatten), the role of her Metropolitan début in 1989, and returned to Covent Garden as Chrysothemis in ...

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Holm, Renate  

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Berlin, Aug 10, 1931; d Vienna, April 21, 2022). German soprano. She studied with Maria Ivogün in Vienna, where she made her début in 1957 in operetta. Engaged at the Volksoper and later the Staatsoper, she appeared there for over 20 years. At Salzburg (1961–3) she sang Blonde and Papagena. Her repertory included Zerlina, Despina, Marzelline, Norina, Mařenka, Sophie, Isotta (...

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Light soprano  

J.B. Steane

(Fr. soprano léger; It. soprano leggiero)

Typical roles for the light soprano are Despina, Susanna, Norina and Nannetta, as well as Sophie (both Der Rosenkavalier and Werther). The lightness in volume of such a voice is usually matched by a brightly produced, freely carrying tone, which in the Italian and French schools tends to be of a more sharply edged, forward quality than with the Germans or British. The term Soubrette (opera) is sometimes used in connection with such roles and voices; its original meaning of ‘coy’ or ‘shrewd’ and its later use, as a noun, to denote a lady’s maid suggest the character of the roles assigned to the soubrette in opera. Light sopranos admired in the 20th century have included Elisabeth Schumann and the Americans Kathleen Battle and Barbara Hendricks. Many sopranos, such as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Mirella Freni, have begun their career in this category and have developed into singers of the lyric or lyric-dramatic type....

Article

Lyric soprano  

J.B. Steane

(Fr. soprano lyrique; Ger. lyrische Sopran; It. soprano lirico)

This is the central, ‘standard’ type of soprano voice, one whose range covers the two octaves from c′ to c ‴ with something over at either end, whose power and fullness are sufficient to take her out of the class of Light soprano while not extending to the demands of heavy roles open to the Dramatic soprano , and whose appeal lies not so much in the agility of her florid singing as in the beauty of tone she is able to bring to her singing of the melodic line. Typical roles for the lyric soprano are Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Agathe (Der Freischütz), Marguerite (Faust), Tatyana (Yevgeny Onegin) and Mimì (La bohème). Examples of the lyric soprano in the 20th century are Geraldine Farrar, Ninon Vallin and Kiri Te Kanawa. Many have extended their repertory so as to include roles which are better defined as lyric-dramatic, such as Amelia (...

Article

Rolandi, Gianna  

Michael Fleming and Elizabeth Forbes

(b New York, Aug 16, 1952; d Chicago, June 20, 2021). American soprano. She studied at the Curtis Institute. In 1975, three days before her scheduled début at the New York City Opera as Zerbinetta, she replaced an ailing soprano as Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann. Appearing at first as a comic coloratura, she increasingly took on more dramatic roles such as Gilda, Lucia (1986, San Francisco), the Queen of Night, and Handel’s Cleopatra (with the ENO in Geneva, 1983) and moved into many of the roles once sung at the City Opera by Beverly Sills. She made her Metropolitan début in 1979 as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, returning as Olympia and Zerbinetta; in the latter role she made her European début at Glyndebourne (1981), where she later sang Susanna, Zdenka, and Konstanze. Her roles also included Philine (Mignon). She sang Bianca in the North American première of ...

Article

Saffer, Lisa  

Kelley Rourke

(b Madison, WI, June 3, 1960). American soprano. She has done her most important work at the extremes of the opera timeline, winning acclaim for interpretations of both early and contemporary repertory. In 1988 she played the roles of Poppea, Fortune, and Minerva in Stephen Wadsworth’s Monteverdi cycle at Skylight Comic Opera. She went on to appear in works by Monteverdi, Cavalli, and Handel in venues around the world, including Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera (Cooperstown, NY), Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona, Spain), and the International Handel Festival (Göttingen, Germany). Saffer has collaborated frequently with the composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, beginning with performances of Hans Werner Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers in 1988 at Tanglewood. She has been celebrated for her interpretation of Marie in Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, a role she has performed at Opéra Bastille, New York City Opera, and the English National Opera. As the title character in Alban Berg’s ...

Article

Saunders, Arlene  

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Cleveland, Oct 5, 1935; d New York, April 17, 2020). American soprano. After studying in Cleveland and Milan, she made her début in 1961 as Mimì at the Teatro Nuovo, Milan, and appeared with the New York City Opera. Engaged at the Hamburg Staatsoper from 1964, she sang in the première of Klebe’s Jacobowsky und der Oberst (1965). In 1966 she sang Pamina at Glyndebourne, and the following year made her first appearances at San Francisco as Louise and Gounod’s Marguerite. She created Mme Euterpova in Menotti’s Help, Help, the Globolinks! at Hamburg (1968) and the title role in Ginastera’s Beatrix Cenci at Washington (1971). She made her Metropolitan début as Eva in 1971. In Boston she sang Natasha (Prokofiev’s War and Peace, 1974) and Nadia (Tippett’s The Ice Break, 1979). She made her Covent Garden début as Minnie (...