Sunday, August 17, 2014

Licia Albanese (1909-2014)

Licia Albanese, one of the most celebrated 20th-century interpreters of Cio-Cio San, the heroine of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” has died at the age of 105. Albanese was mainstay in that and other Puccini roles at the Metropolitan Opera from 1940 to 1966, during which she performed more than 400 times.

She also was famed for singing Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” a role she essayed a record 90 times at the Met.

In 1974, she and her husband, Joseph A. Gimma, founded the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, which assists young singers.

After the old Metropolitan Opera House was torn down in 1966, “Miss Albanese could be seen on some fine days standing amid the rubble, dressed, as if in mourning weeds, in her Butterfly kimono,” Margalit Fox writes in an obituary for The New York Times: