Maria Labia


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(b Verona, 14 Feb 1880; d Malcesine, Lake Garda, 10 Feb 1953). Italian soprano. She studied with her mother, Cecilia Labia, making her début in 1905 as Mimì in Stockholm. In 1907 she appeared at the Komische Oper, Berlin, as Tosca, returning subsequently as Carmen, Marta (Tiefland) and Salome, among other roles. She sang at the Manhattan Opera House, New York (1908–9), La Scala (1912) and the Paris Opéra (1913). In 1916 she was imprisoned for a year in Ancona as a suspected German agent. Resuming her career after the war, she sang Giorgetta in the first European performance of Il tabarro (1919, Rome), repeating the role in that year in Buenos Aires. In the first Scala production of Wolf-Ferrari's I quattro rusteghi (1922) she played Felice, a role that became her favourite and in which she continued to appear until 1936. Her performances in verismo operas were said to be impulsive and, for their day, ‘shamelessly sensual’. She used her warm, not especially large, voice with particular reliance on the chest register. Some early recordings remain of her Tosca and Carmen.


From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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