Amelita Galli-Curci

As Manon, 1920

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Superlatives come easily when one speaks of artistic greatness. Yet in the world of opera they flow most freely when the name of Amelita Galli-Curci is mentioned. If not the greatest coloratura soprano of all time, she must surely be recognized as among the world’s finest examples of true operatic artistry.

My own generation was never privileged to hear Galli-Curci perform. Decades before I was born she already had retired from the stage. Yet from the relatively few scratchy masters she produced in the early part of this century we can yet discern a degree of grace and beauty unsurpassed in our modern high-tech world of opera. Did those poor recordings perhaps hide her flaws? Judging from contemporary accounts, they hide nothing but even greater prowess than the recording technology of her day could capture.

My personal association with Amelita’s greatness began while I was an aspiring young musician in my teen years. During a vacation to Florida with my parents, we visited a museum in which Galli-Curci’s piano was on display. After cornering an unsuspecting curator and grovelling for a few moments, I was allowed to play the instrument whose keys once had been caressed by finer hands than mine. Oh, to have heard that glorious voice singing as the notes were struck in earlier days! My poor performance that day was unworthy of the instrument, but what an honor it was for me to play those keys that in earlier times had lent accompaniment to one of the greatest divas the world has known.

This web site is my humble tribute to the lovely Amelita. I welcome guests to submit comments, corrections, or suggestions for improving this site.

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Last updated 17 December 2010

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