Rosina Penco


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(b Naples, April 1823; d Porretta, nr Bologna, 2 Nov 1894). Italian soprano. After an unrecorded début she sang in Dresden and Berlin in 1850, and Constantinople in 1850–51, chiefly the lyric coloratura parts of Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti, and was renowned for her trill. Before Giuseppe Verdi wrote Leonora in Il trovatore for her (1853, Rome) he heard that she had ‘many virtues’ though ‘imperfect’; she was also described as ‘very pretty’ and ‘a devil’ to her fellow singers. Verdi prized her combination of agility with passionate dramatic temperament; he later suggested her for La traviata and for the heavier part of Amelia in Un ballo in maschera (which she eventually sang in 1861 at Covent Garden and the Théâtre Italien, Paris). He complained in 1858 that she had retreated into the bel canto style ‘of thirty years ago’ – her range included Norma, Elvira in I puritani and Paolina in Donizetti's Poliuto – instead of moving forward into ‘the style of thirty years hence’. She sang frequently in Madrid (to 1857), London (1859–62), Paris (most years from 1855 to 1872) and St Petersburg (to 1874).

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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