Brown - Dark
Brown - Dark
Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA
Place of Death
New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York, USA
Cause of Death
a stroke after grappling with complications of breast cancer for 10 years
Claim to Fame
as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini`s MADAMA BUTTERFLY
Anna Moffo (June 27, 1932 – March 9, 2006) was an American opera singer, television personality, and award-winning dramatic actress. One of the leading lyric-coloratura sopranos of her generation, she possessed a warm and radiant voice of considerable range and agility. Because of her physical appearance she was nicknamed "La Bellissima". Winning a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Italy, she became very popular there after performing leading operatic roles on three RAI television productions in 1956. Moffo returned to America for her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on October 16, 1957. In New York, her Metropolitan Opera debut took place on November 14, 1959. She performed at the Met for over seventeen seasons. Although Anna Moffo's original recordings were made for EMI Records, she later signed an exclusive contract with RCA Victor. In the early 1960s, she hosted her own show on Italian television, was acclaimed for her beauty, appeared in several operatic films, and other dramatic non-singing roles. In the early 1970s she extended her international popularity to Germany through operatic performances, TV appearances, and several films...all while continuing her American operatic performances. Due to an extremely heavy workload, Moffo suffered a serious vocal-breakdown in 1974, from which she never fully recovered. In later years, she gave several master classes through the Met. Her death at age 73 was preceded by a decade-long battle with cancer.
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Anna Moffo was born in Wayne,Pa.to an Italian-American shoemaker,Nicholas Moffo and his wife,Regina Cinti,on June 27,1932.In high school she was popular,proud of her hook shot on the basketball court and captain of the field hockey team.After graduation,Hollywood beckoned, but her parents wanted her to be a nun.Instead,in 1954,she entered and won the Philadelphia Orchestra Young Artists Auditions.Awarded a Fulbright fellowship,she went to Rome to study voice,master the Italian language and train for opera.She made her stage opera debut in 1955 as Norina in Donizetti`s "Don Pasquale" in Spoleto.Her big breakthrough came the next year,when she starred in a TV production of Puccini`s MADAMA BUTTERFLY,directed by Mario Lanfranchi,a producer for RCA Victor and RAI.She and Lanfranchi married in 1957.Sensing her star potential,he pushed her too hard.Her Met debut in 1959 was as Violetta in "La Traviata."The reviews,though encouraging,were cautious.The New York Times critic Harold C.Schonberg wrote that her singing needed a little more personality."She has the brains,ability,voice and looks and if she develops the musical temperament to go along with it,there will be no stopping her".She soon became a favorite at the Met,and remained so well into the 1960`s.She appeared some 200 times with the company, including her portrayal of Liù in the legendary production of Turandot in 1961 with Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli.By the late 1960`s,her voice became unreliable.In 1969,she caused a scandal in Italy when she appeared to be nude in a scene in the film "Una Storia d`Amore".In later years she insisted that she had not been totally unclothed.In 1972 she and Mr.Lanfranchi divorced.Two years later she married Robert W.Sarnoff,the chairman of RCA,who was enthralled with his glamorous wife.Under Mr.Sarnoff,RCA built a promotional campaign around her,including a recording of Massenet`s "Thaïs",with Ms.Moffo in the title role.The reviews,predictably,were very poor.In the late 1970`s Ms.Moffo went to a respected voice teacher,Beverley Johnson to get her singing back in shape.The work paid off somewhat:her career continued. But her best years were long behind her.For a brief time,though,Ms.Moffo was a lovely singer and appealing artist who broke out of the traditional career mode to reach the larger public.Though her career began splendidly, her voice had declined by her late 30`s.With her radiant appearance,she was drawn early on into television and film, playing host of her own variety show on Italian TV for many years.She might not have fulfilled her promise,but for a good dozen years she enjoyed enormous success and won a devoted following at a time when her competition for roles like Verdi`s Violetta, Puccini`s Mimi and Donizetti`s Lucia included Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi and Joan Sutherland.Her voice was not large but warm and rich,with soft pastel colorings and a velvety lower range.Agile coloratura technique allowed her to sing high soprano bel canto repertory as in "Lucia di Lammermoor".As Susanna on the classic 1959 EMI recording of "Nozze di Figaro",Ms.Moffo holds her own and then some in scenes with the intimidating soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, who sings the Countess. Ms.Moffo died at 73 of a stroke after grappling with complications of breast cancer for 10 years.Cemetery Valhalla Westchester,N.Y. ****************************
by Giovanni Mascellaro
Radnor High School, Philadelphia`s Curtis Institute of Music, Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome
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Opera singer (soprano), TV hostess, actress
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