Freni (real name, Fregni), Mirella

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Freni (real name, Fregni), Mirella

Freni (real name, Fregni), Mirella, noted Italian soprano; b. Modena, Feb. 27, 1935. She studied voice with her uncle, Dante Arcelli, making her first public appearance at the age of 11. Her accompanist was a child pianist named Leone Magiera, whom she married in 1955. She later studied voice with Ettore Campogalliani. Freni made her operatic debut in Modena on Feb. 3, 1955, as Micaela, and then sang in provincial Italian opera houses. In 1957 she took 1st prize in the Viotti Competition in Vercelli. In 1959 she sang with the Amsterdam Opera at the Holland Festival; then at the Glyndebourne Festival (1960), Covent Garden in London (1961), and La Scala in Milan (1962). She gained acclaim as Mimi in the film version of La Boheme, produced at La Scala in 1963 under Karajan’s direction. When La Scala toured Russia in 1964, Freni joined the company and sang Mimi at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. She also chose the role of Mimi for her U.S. debut with the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. on Sept. 29, 1965. She subsequently sang with the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, and the Rome Opera. In 1976 she traveled with the Paris Opera during its first U.S. tour. In addition to Mimi, she sang the roles of Susanna, Zerlina, Violetta, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, and Manon. She won acclaim for her vivid portrayal of Tatiana, which she sang with many major opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera in 1989. In 1990 she celebrated the 35th anniversary of her debut in Modena by returning there as Manon Lescaut. In 1992 she sang Alice Ford at the Metropolitan Opera, and that year also appeared as Mimi in Barcelona and Rome. She was engaged in 1994 as Fedora at La Scala, at the Lyric Opera in Chicago, and at Covent Garden, and then sang that role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1997. In 1998 she portrayed Fedora at the Washington (D.C.) Opera and at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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