(b Philadelphia, 19 Dec 1902; d Zürich, 29 June 1986). American soprano. She studied first with her father, the Italian tenor Ferruccio Giannini, then with Marcella Sembrich, and made her operatic début at Hamburg as Aida in 1925. Subsequent engagements took her to Berlin, Vienna and Covent Garden, as well as to Salzburg (1934–6), where she sang Donna Anna under Bruno Walter and Alice Ford under Arturo Toscanini. In 1938 she created the part of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, an opera by her brother, Vittorio Giannini. Her career at the Metropolitan began with Aida in 1936 and lasted until 1941, during which period she also played Donna Anna, Santuzza and Tosca. After appearing in Chicago (1938–42) and San Francisco (1939–43) she took part in the first season of New York City Opera (1943), as Tosca at the opening, and then Carmen and Santuzza. She retired some 20 years later and devoted herself to teaching. Giannini's voice was a true dramatic soprano, backed by strong temperament and impeccable musicianship, as revealed by her recordings, notably her Aida. She must be rated a ‘freelance’ prima donna, who never belonged to any company but made numerous ‘star’ and guest appearances. She was also a noted concert singer.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.