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Amelita Galli-Curci
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Vocalist
    (November 18, 1882-November 26, 1963)
    Born in Milan, Italy
    Birth name was Amelita Galli
    Coloratura soprano
    Member of the Metropolitan Opera (1921-30)
    Notable roles include Lucia in 'Lucia di Lammermoor,' Violetta in 'La Traviata,' Gilda in 'Rigeletto' and Rosina in 'The Barber of Seville'
    After she became famous, she claimed she developed the trills in her upper register by imitating a nightingale. (The prosaic reality was that she developed her voice by practicing singing exercises created by Manuel Garcia, the teacher of Jenny Lind.)
    She used her influence at the Met to get another Italian coloratura who she considered a potential rival fired.
    Her voice was considered too light and gentle for more dramatic roles.
    Musical and medical historians debate whether her vocal decline was the result of surgery to remove a goiter (1936) or aging and general wear and tear.
    After years of performing popular songs, she made a brief and disastrous return to opera (1936).
    She bought a farm in the Catskills and named the dairy cows after opera roles (Aida, Tosca, etc.).
    She originally studied piano until composer Pietro Mascagni, a friend of the family, heard her singing and encouraged her to go into opera.
    She was fluent in English, Spanish, French and German, as well as her native Italian.
    'Punch' magazine described her as 'as dark and slim and graceful as a cheetah.'
    During a tour of Spain, she came down with typhus, and while recovering and still too weak to stand, she performed in 'The Barber of Seville' in a wheelchair (1915).
    She set a record for the largest amount paid to a singer for a single concert when she earned $15,000 for a recital at the Hollywood Bowl (1924).
    She was a role model for Beverly Sills.
    When someone tried to denigrate Red Grange's football prowess by saying 'All Grange can do is run,' coach Bob Zuppke dryly replied, 'All Galli-Curci can do is sing.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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