Adelina Patti, or Adela Juana Maria Patti, was born on February 10, 1843 in Madrid, Spain and would go from being a child prodigy to one of the greatest sopranos of all time.
Her parents were opera singers and from the earliest years of her training, her instructors had believed that Patti had the potential to to become one of the greatest coloratura singers of the 19th century.
In her childhood, her family moved to New York City where she grew up in the Wakefield section of the Bronx (her family home is still standing today). Patti began to sing professionally, even as a child, and developed into a coloratura soprano with perfectly equalized vocal registers and a surprisingly warm, satiny tone. She appeared in concerts through New York City from the age seven.
After spending several years touring North and South America as well as the West Indies, in November 1859 she finally made her operatic debut in the role of Lucia in Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the New York Academy of Music. Two years later, Patti traveled to London, where she debuted as Amina in Vincenzo Bellini’s “La Sonnambula” which was marked as a sensational performance and accomplishment for Patti.
For the next 23 years she was a Covent Garden regular. Verdi declared her the greatest singer he had ever heard, and audiences ranging from musicians to royalty couldn’t get enough of her. She was without doubt the supreme exponent of bel canto and coloratura in her day.
Her official farewell to the stage occurred at the Royal Albert Hall in London on December 1906, but she continued to make occasional appearances.
She left behind recordings before her death on Sept. 27, 1919.
Throughout her career, she sang many roles in the operas of composers like Bellini, Gioacchino Rossini, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Charles Gounod, to name a few, as well as several other operas of Giuseppe Verdi.
Watch and Listen
Here are a few of her signature recordings as well as a documentary on the singer.