Legends: Mirella Freni

Nicknamed La Prudentissima due to the attention given to her voice and the prudent choices of roles she evolved, Mirella Freni was one of the most appreciated sopranos in Italy, but also internationally. Incorporating the typical lyrical soprano, Freni is known for both, her timbral quality and her special acting skills. Her repertoire includes about 40 roles, especially from the works of composers like Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, but also Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Piotr Ilici Tchaikovsky.

Mirella Fregni, known as Freni, was born on February 27, 1935 in Modena. The life and career of the soprano were closely connected to the tenor Luciano Pavarotti, also from Modena. Due to the fact that, the mothers of the two singers worked together at the local tobacco factory, they had known each other since childhood. As a child, Freni was attracted to opera music. At the age of 12, she sings aria Un bel di vedremo from the opera Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, at a radio contest.

She is remarked by Biniamino Gigli, famous tenor and juror of that contest, who warned her that approaching such a repertoire too early can cause her vocal damage. Thus, Freni resumed singing at age 17. Two years later she debuted on the stage of the Teatro Comunale di Modena in the role of Micaela from Carmen by Georges Bizet. Even if that event was followed by numerous artistic opportunities, the soprano gave up the stage to establish a family with conductor Leone Magiera, who also became her singing teacher.

Mirella Freni resumed her career in 1958, when she performed Mimì from La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini at Teatro Regio di Torino. Her international breakthrough came in 1960, when she appeared in Zerlina (Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) at the Glyndebourne Festival, being on the same stage with Joan Sutherland (Donna Anna). After that, she performed in Adina (LElisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti) directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

Read the entire article here, in the 1st issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.


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