(b Viterbo, 25 Dec 1874; d Florence, 7 Feb 1944). Italian soprano. Of the humblest origin, she began her career at the age of 14 singing in cafés and soon became celebrated for her exceptional beauty. Encouraged by the tenor Francesco Marconi to devote herself to opera, she studied with Maddelena Mariani-Masi and made her début in 1900 at the S Carlos, Lisbon, in Pagliacci, immediately afterwards singing in La bohème at the S Carlo, Naples. Although mostly engaged in Paris, Monte Carlo and, above all, St Petersburg, she also sang in New York (Metropolitan and Manhattan Opera House) between 1907 and 1910, and in London in 1908 (Covent Garden) and 1911 (London Opera House). With an agreeable though limited voice, she was an elegant, natural actress and preferred roles that allowed her to display her attractive figure in splendid jewels and spectacular costumes: Violetta, Manon (both Massenet and Puccini), Thaïs, Fedora, Tosca. She was married four times; one of her husbands (from 1913 to 1919) was the tenor Lucien Muratore. Between 1914 and 1921 she starred in several films. Her autobiography Le mie verità was published in Rome in 1936.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.