Labia, Maria, noted Italian soprano, sister of Fausta Labia; b. Verona, Feb. 14, 1880; d. Malcesine del Garda, Feb. 10, 1953. She received her musical education from her mother. Following concert engagements in Milan, Verona, and Padua (1902), and in Russia and Sweden (1903–04), she made her operatic debut as Mimi in Stockholmon May 19, 1905. She scored a remarkable success as Tosca at Berlin’s Komische Oper (1907), continuing to sing there until 1911. Among her other notable roles there were Carmen, Thaïs, and Salome. She appeared as Tosca in her debut with the Manhattan Opera on Nov. 9, 1908. After a season there, she continued her career in Europe with engagements in Paris, Vienna, and Milan. She was arrested as a German agent by the Italian authorities in 1916 and spent a year in prison in Ancona. After the close of World War I, she resumed her career in Rome (1919); subsequently became closely associated with the role of Felice in WolfFerrari’s I quatro rusteghi, which she sang many times from 1922 until 1936. After teaching at the Warsaw Cons. (1930–34), she gave instruction in Rome and Siena. She wrote Guardare indietro: Che fatica (1950).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire