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Pasta (Negri), Guiditta

PASTA (Negri), GUIDITTA

PASTA (Negri ), GUIDITTA (1798–1865), Italian soprano singer. Pasta was born in Saronno, Lombardy, and entered the Milan conservatory at the age of 15 to study under Asiolo, later studying in Paris. Her stage debut in Brescia (1815), and early performances in London (1817, in Cimarosa's Penelope and other parts), met with so little favor that she retired to Italy for a further period of study with Scappa. Her "second debut" in Venice (1819) revealed her as a much-matured singer, and her successes steadily mounted, until in Paris in 1821 her gifts as a vivid, gripping powerful actress-singer were the focus of sensational acclaim. From then Pasta was the Prima donna of Europe; and although her singing was found imperfect in technique and liable to "off-nights," the two-and-a-half octave range and peculiarly expressive timbre of her voice excited the imaginations of Bellini and Donizetti, both of whom created masterpieces for her (Donizetti's Anna Bolena, Milan, 1830; Bellini's La Sonnambula, Milan, March 1831; and Norma, Milan, December 1831). Pasta has been called "the Callas of her day." She sang regularly in London, Paris, and St. Petersburg until 1837, but thereafter her stage appearances became less frequent, although in 1840, on the offer of a huge fee, she sang for a season in St. Petersburg. Her last London appearances (1850) proved distressing to admirers in that her voice showed signs of exhaustion; critics nevertheless remarked that her acting powers were undiminished. She died at Blevio, near Lake Como.

[Max Loppert]

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