Della Casa, Lisa (1919—)

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Della Casa, Lisa (1919—)

Swiss lyric soprano. Born in Burgdorf near Berne, Switzerland, on February 2, 1919; studied with Margaret Haeser in Berne and Zurich; married Dragan Debeljevic, in 1947; children: one daughter.

Debuted as Cio-Cio San in Solothurn-Biel (1941); debuted as Zedenka in Salzburg (1947); debuted in Great Britain at Glyndebourne (1951); was a member of the Vienna State Opera (1947–73); debuted at the Metropolitan Opera (1953) and sang for 15 seasons until 1968.

Lisa Della Casa was born near Berne, Switzerland, on February 2, 1919. After studying with Margaret Haeser , she debuted as Cio-Cio San in 1941. Although she loved singing Italian opera, Della Casa was rarely cast in these roles. Instead, she sang Mozart more frequently, performing and recording Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, the Countess in Figaro, and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte. Somewhat of a Richard Strauss specialist, she performed Zedenka in Arabella, Ariadne in Capriccio, and Octavian, Sophie, and Marshallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She became the 20th century's acknowledged master interpreter in the title role of Strauss' Arabella and made complete recordings for Decca in 1957 and Deutsche Grammophon in 1963. Della Casa virtually owned the role of Arabella after she performed it for the first time.

Lisa Della Casa's lyric soprano was somewhat inconsistent. The upper notes were light and easy but the bottom of her range was weak and tinny. Her middle voice was never dependable or strong, even at the beginning of her career, and became weaker with the passage of time. Despite limited resources, she pushed her artistry to the utmost. At her best, her voice had a radiant quality that was nearly unmatched. Della Casa performed for the last time in 1974.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia