Cigna, Gina (b. 1900)

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Cigna, Gina (b. 1900)

French-Italian coloratura soprano. Name variations: Genoveffa Sens. Born on March 6, 1900, in Angères, France; daughter of an Italian mother and French father; studied at the Paris Conservatory with Emma Calvé , Darclée, and Storchio; married Maurice Sens (French opera singer); children: one son.

Debuted under name Genoveffa Sens at Teatro alla Scala, singing there every season thereafter under her own name (1929–43); debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Aïda (1937); abandoned her singing career after an automobile accident (1947); became a voice teacher and taught at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada (1953–57).

Gina Cigna was born on March 6, 1900, in Angères, France, and studied at the Paris Conservatory. Her career spanned 20 years, from 1927 until an automobile accident in 1947. Cigna specialized in heavy dramatic Italian heroines, particularly those of Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Zandonai, Giordano, and Ponchielli.

She debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1937, mid-point in her career, and she performed at the Teatro alla Scala every season from 1929 until 1943. One of her most celebrated roles was as Bellini's Norma.

Gina Cigna's voice was not always perfectly even or connected. At times, she exploited the breaks that often occurred in the middle and lower registers, using them for dramatic effect. Sustaining an even, controlled legato was not easy for her. Characteristically, she subdivided long lines into shorter phrases, defining each phrase with great vitality. Her tones were not always sustained, and her dynamics were not always controlled according to the tenets of bel canto.

Excelling in ensembles, Cigna's singing was focused, deliberate, responsible, and intense. As an actress, she portrayed complex layers of emotions. Her naturally clean sensitive soprano had a pleasing vibrata, which, combined with her acting abilities, made her a memorable performer. Retiring after an auto accident in 1947, she turned to teaching. Cigna's last position was at the Toronto Conservatory in 1957.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia