Giannini, Dusolina (1900–1986)

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Giannini, Dusolina (1900–1986)

American soprano. Name variations: Gianini. Born on December 19, 1900, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died on June 26, 1986, in Zurich, Switzerland; daughter of Ferruccio (a tenor) and Antonietta (Briglia) Giannini (a violinist); sister of Euphemia Giannini (1895–1979), a soprano who taught at the Curtis Institute, and Vittorio Giannini (1903–1966), a composer; studied with her father.

Debuted in Hamburg (1925), Teatro alla Scala debut (1928), Metropolitan (1936); retired (1962) and became a teacher.

Dusolina Giannini could no more remember her first singing lesson than her first breath as she was vocally trained her entire childhood. Her father was an operatic tenor and impresario while her mother was an accomplished instrumentalist. An older sister, Euphemia Giannini , became a well-known voice teacher at the Curtis Institute, and Dusolina's younger brother, Vittorio, was a composer of merit. Dusolina first appeared at her father's theater at age nine. During her childhood, she was known as "the Little Duse." As the family could not decide if Dusolina was a soprano or contralto, she was sent to study with Marcella Sembrich at age 16. On March 14, 1923, a series of events prevented Genei Sandero and two backup performers from appearing at Carnegie Hall. Giannini was plucked out of Sembrich's class and placed on the stage, an appearance which was a triumph. She received offers to perform with major orchestras and a recording contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company as a result.

Giannini appeared at La Scala in 1928 and was so popular that she was invited to make a complete recording of Aïda in 1929. Although she was asked to sign a contract with the famous Italian opera house, she refused, deciding that she would never become a formal member of any opera company. On February 12, 1936, she walked onto the stage of the Metropolitan, with no rehearsal, to perform Aïda. Once again her presentation was a triumph. She withdrew from a performance of Norma on February 26, 1936, because the Met would not grant her enough rehearsal time. Giannini returned to Salzburg that same year at the request of Arturo Toscanini to sing Mistress Ford in Verdi's Falstaff. Siegfried Wagner invited her to sing Kundry in Parsifal at Bayreuth, but as Giannini explained, "a man named Hitler interfered with my plans." After the war, she settled in Zurich where she taught master classes and was proud of the title, "The Musician's Singer," given by her peers. She was also proud to be considered Marcella Sembrich's successor as a teacher.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia