Bellincioni, Gemma (Cesira Matilda)
- Desmond Shawe-Taylor
(Cesira Matilda )
(b Como, 18 Aug 1864; d Naples, 23 April 1950). Italian soprano. She was taught by her father, a professional bass, and later by the famous tenor roberto Stagno, whom she first met in 1886 and subsequently married. Except in the role of Violetta (in which she was praised by Verdi), she was rarely at her best in the older type of opera, and came into her own, both as actress and as singer, with the arrival of the verismo school; the great event of her life was her sensational portrayal of Santuzza in the première of Cavalleria rusticana (1890), with Stagno as Turiddu (see illustration). Though very successful in the principal European opera houses and in South America, she failed to establish herself at Covent Garden, where she appeared in 1895 amidst a company that was exceptionally strong in soprano talent; even her Santuzza, like her Carmen, was overshadowed by the immense popularity of Calvé. She created many other roles in ...