Antonietta Stella was one of the most underrated singers of her era.
Born on March 15, 1929 in Perugia, Italy, the soprano studied at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and made her professional debut in Spoleto in “Il Trovatore” in 1950;. A year later she appeared in Rome in “La Forza del Destino” and immediately kicked off a major career around Italy, making her debut at La Scala in 1954. She became a fixture at La Scala until 1953, singing a plethora of roles by Verdi and Puccini.
In 1955, she made debuts in Vienna, London, Paris, Brussels, and Chicago before heading to New York in 1957. She would become a Met fixture until 1960.
While she was not as famous as Maria Callas or Renata Tebaldi, she remained a major singer during her era and made a plethora of recordings of the great Italian operas.
Stella was a major Verdi and Puccini singer, though her greatest successes came in the roles of the former composer. For many, her Leonora in “Il Trovatore” is among the finer interpretations of the role of the 20th century.
She was also lauded for her Met performances of “Madama Butterfly,” with her acting a major focus.
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Watch and Listen
Here is a famed recording of “Il Trovatore.”
And here is a recording of “Tosca.”