Scalchi, Sofia, celebrated Italian mezzo-soprano; b. Turin, Nov. 29, 1850; d. Rome, Aug. 22, 1922. She studied with Boccabadati, making her debut at Mantua in 1866 as Ulrica in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. She then sang throughout Italy. She appeared in concert in London (Sept. 16, 1868) and at Covent Garden (Nov. 5, 1868) as Azucena, obtaining enormous success; continued to appear there regularly until 1889, and also sang in St. Petersburg (1872–81; 1889–90). On Dec. 20, 1882, she made her U.S. debut as Arsaces in Semiramide at N.Y.’s Academy of Music; then was engaged for the first performance at the Metropolitan Opera, where she sang Siebel in Faust on Oct. 22, 1883; was again on its roster in 1891–92 and from 1893 to 1896, and then retired from the operatic stage. Her voice had a range of 2 1/2 octaves; it was essentially a contralto voice, but with so powerful a high register that she successfully performed soprano parts. Among her other roles were Fidés, Ortrud, Amneris, Emilia, and Mistress Quickly.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire