(b Florence, 1909; d Sharon, CT, 31 May 1994). American soprano of Italian birth. She was taken by her parents to the USA when she was 12 and trained at Pittsburgh. Her earliest appearances were with the Salmaggi Company at the Brooklyn Academy in 1946, where she sang Norma, Leonora (Il trovatore) and Aida. Then she sang with La Scala company of Philadelphia (1946–7), adding Santuzza and Gioconda to her repertory. She was introduced to Arturo Toscanini by Licia Albanese and he immediately cast her as Desdemona for a concert performance of Otello. This was recorded, as were her subsequent performances with Toscanini in Aida, Falstaff (Alice Ford), Un ballo in maschera and Verdi's Requiem. Nelli made her Metropolitan début, as Aida, in 1953 and appeared there until 1961. She also appeared in Verdi roles at San Francisco, New Orleans and Chicago. In 1948 she sang Gioconda in Genoa and Aida at La Scala, following her appearance there with Toscanini in a concert to mark the reopening of the house. She possessed a firm, technically secure, if not strikingly individual, spinto voice; under Toscanini's tutelage, her interpretations were often shapely and eloquent.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.