Freni, Mirella (1935—)

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Freni, Mirella (1935—)

Italian lyric soprano. Born Mirella Fregni on February 27, 1935, in Modena, Italy; studied at Mantua and at Bologna Conservatory with Ettore Campogalliani; married Leone Magiera; married Nicolai Ghiaurov (a bass), in 1981; children: (first marriage) one daughter.

Made debut in Modena (1955), Covent Garden (1961), Teatro alla Scala (1962), Metropolitan Opera (1965); appeared at Salzburg (1966–72 and 1974–80).

Known for her performances of Handel and Mozart, Mirella Freni established her operatic reputation performing works from the 18th and 19th centuries. In 19th-century repertoire, Freni performed French, Italian, or Russian roles with equal aplomb. One of her best roles was as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, described by one critic as "the Tatyana of one's dreams." She was equally praised for performances of Verdi's Aïda. Her rich tone and intelligent phrasing were hallmarks of her art. Freni brought great energy to her portrayals, whether they were light and cheerful or dark and tragic. She sang recitative as if it meant something, with real pathos in her voice. Freni's acting abilities were considerable and enabled her to bring characters to life.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia