(b Portomaggiore, nr Ferrara, 6 Jan 1903; d Milan, 3 Sept 1981). Italian soprano. She studied with Vezzani in Bologna and in 1926 made her début at Cremona, under the name of Maria Bianchi, as Lola (Cavalleria rusticana); her ‘official’ début was at Parma in 1927 as Liù. After singing Elsa and Margherita she was engaged at La Scala, where she made her début as Eva in 1928. She continued to sing there until 1950. A leading singer throughout Italy, she sang Norina, Liù and Zerlina at Covent Garden (1937, 1939) and in 1938 made her only American appearances, at San Francisco and the Metropolitan (where she made her début as Mimì). Her repertory included Carolina (Il matrimonio segreto), Susanna, Violetta, Martha, Suzel (L᾽amico Fritz), Zazà and – her most famous role – Giacomo Puccini's Manon Lescaut. In addition, she created several roles, including the title role in Pietro Mascagni's Pinotta (1932), Laura in Riccardo Zandonai's La farsa amorosa (1933) and, at La Scala, Gasparina in Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's Il campiello (1936) and Finea in his La dama boba (1939). Her voice and vibrant, appealing style can be heard in a number of recordings that also catch the immediate eloquence of her interpretations. She was considered one of the finest Italian sopranos between the wars.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.