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Raisa, Rosa

RAISA, ROSA

RAISA, ROSA (née Raisa Burchstein ; 1893–1963), dramatic soprano. Born in Bialystok, Poland, Raisa fled from there following the 1907 pogroms and settled on Capri. She studied at the Conservatorium of Naples with Barbara Marchisio, the famous 19th-century "bel canto" contralto. Conductor Cleofonte Campanim, the director of the Chicago Opera, contracted the 20-year-old Raisa for a debut in Parma's Teatro Regio in Verdi's first opera, Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio, inaugurating a special festival of operas commemorating the hundredth anniversary of Verdi's birth. Her immediate success prompted him to take Raisa to the United States for her North America debut. Her first professional seasons witnessed debuts at London's Covent Garden singing Aida opposite Enrico Caruso as well as appearances in Paris, at the Rome Opera, and La Scala, Milan.

Raisa spent the major part of her career with the Chicago Opera as principal dramatic soprano from 1913 to 1937. Her best known roles were as Aida, Gioconda, Norma, Santuzza, Maliella in Jewels of the Madonna and Rachel in La Juive. She also appeared on the stages of South America (Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio do Janeiro, and Sao Paulo) and Mexico. Arturo Toscanini, whose admiration for her voice and art, led him to name her in 1916 the "Tamagno of dramatic sopranos," brought her back to La Scala (1924–1926) and cast her in the world premieres of Boito's posthumous Nerone and Puccini's posthumous Turandot. Raisa sang numberous concerts throughout the United States with her husband, the Italian baritone, Giacomo Rimini. Her programs often included Russian and Yiddish art and folk songs. She made numerous appearances for Jewish charities and causes. Upon her retirement in 1938 she and Rimini opened a voice school in Chicago.

Raisa was noted for her large and richly colored voice with its brilliant upper register, the technical control and ease of her delivery, as well as the emotionalism, sincerity, and beauty of her stage portrayals.

[Charles B. Mintzer]

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