Celebrating Mirella Freni

Mirella Freni
Modena’s Favorite Soprano
Sunday was Mirella Freni Day at the Metropolitan Opera. Fifty years ago, the Italian soprano made her operatic debut, and 40 years ago, she made her Met debut. The company celebrated these facts with a gala on Sunday afternoon, a fairly emotional show featuring six singers, plus Miss Freni herself.
A little well-known history: Miss Freni was born in Modena, the same town as Luciano Pavarotti. The most famous trivial fact in opera is that the two of them shared a wet nurse. “You can see who got all of the milk,” she is quoted as saying. She quickly became an international star, a singer known for technique, purity, and refinement. She was a wonderful Mimi (in “La Boheme”), and excelled in many other roles as well. In recent years, she has sung a good bit of Russian repertory, Tchaikovsky in particular.
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Bowing to Honesty as Icing on a Diva’s Cake
By BERNARD HOLLAND [NY Times, 17 May 05]
Veneration of one’s elders is not a concept that holds much water these days, although grand opera may be an exception. Broken voices with glorious pasts regularly enjoy the whoops and yells of opera fanatics celebrating some milestone or tribute. Yet in the case of Mirella Freni on Sunday afternoon they were confronting a working singer, not just a legend in bodily form.
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