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Cavalieri, Lina (actually, Natalina)

Cavalieri, Lina (actually, Natalina)

Cavalieri, Lina (actually, Natalina), famous Italian soprano; b. Viterbo, Dee. 25, 1874; d. in an air raid on Florence, Feb. 8, 1944. As a young woman of striking beauty, she became the cynosure of the Paris boulevardiers via her appearances in cafés (1893) and at the Folies-Bergère (1894). During a trip to Russia in 1900, she married Prince Alexander Bariatinsky, who persuaded her to take up an operatic career. After studying in Paris, she made a premature debut as Nedda at the Teatro Sao Carlo in Lisbon (1900); at her second appearance, the audience’s disapproval brought the performance to a halt. She and the Prince then parted company, but she continued vocal studies with Maddalena Mariani-Masi in Milan, returning successfully to the stage as Mimi at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples (1900); she then sang in St. Petersburg and Warsaw (1901). In 1905 she was chosen to create the role of L’Ensoleillad in Massenet’s Chérubin in Monte Carlo, and on Dec. 5, 1906, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y as Fedora, winning subsequent praise for her dramatic portrayals there of Tosca and Mimi. In 1907, after divorcing her husband, she contracted a lucrative marriage with the American millionaire Winthrop Chandler, but left him in a week, precipitating a sensational scandal that caused the Metropolitan to break her contract; she made her farewell appearance there in a concert on March 8, 1908. She sang at London’s Covent Garden (1908), N.Y’s Manhattan Opera House (1908), the London Opera House (1911), and the Chicago Grand Opera (1913–14; 1921–22). She married Lucien Muratore in 1913, but abandoned him in 1919; she then married Paolo D’Arvanni, making her home at her Villa Cappucina near Florence. Among her other fine roles were Adriana Lecouvreur, Manon Lescaut, and Salomé in Hérodiade. She publ. an autobiography, La mie verità (1936). She was the subject of an Italian film under the telling title La Donna più bella dello mondo (1957), starring Gina Lollo-brigida.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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