Artist Profile: Magda Olivero, One of the Great Verismo Artists Of All Time

By David Salazar

Magda Olivero is one of the greatest singers of the 20th century.

Born on March 25, 1910 in Saluzzo Italy, she made her singing debut at the age of 22. She became a well-known artist through 1941 when she got married and decided to retire. However, she would return to the stage after 10 years  and would become a major fixture all around the world. In fact, she performed in Europe, North America, Latin America, and even Egypt.

Surprisingly, despite her renowned, she rarely performed at some of the greatest opera companies. She had just one performance at the Vienna State Opera and three at the Met. She never debuted at the Royal Opera House or the Paris Opera.

She retired from the stage in 1981 at the age of 71. She would live until the age of 104.

She left a wide range of recordings throughout her career.

Major Roles

She performed a wide range of Italian repertory, but for many she is undeniably the queen of verismo singing. She was famously brought out of an early retirement at Cilea’s request to interpret “Adriana Lecouvreur,” a role that she would be identified with.

Among her other major roles were in the operas of Puccini, especially “Tosca,” the opera with which she made her Met debut (she appeared in three performances of the opera with the company and nothing else).

Watch and Listen

Here is an album of selected arias.

And a legendary recording of “Adriana Lecouvreur.”


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