Obituary: Cecilia Fusco Dies of COVID-19

By Francisco Salazar

Italian soprano Cecilia Fusco has died at the age of 87, after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020.

Fusco was born on June 10, 1933, in Rome and grew up in a musical family. Her father Giovanni Fusco was a film composer who worked with such renowned directors as Michelangelo Antonioni and Jean-Luc Godard, while her mother was a pianist and pupil of Alfredo Casella and later became a music agent for Artists’ Mass.

Fusco went on to study at the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia in Rome and won the Puccini competition of the RAI. In 1958 she made her debut at the Teatro Margherita in Genoa in the role of Gilda in Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and that would be followed by her Teatro alla Scala debut in 1960 where she sang the role of Barbarina in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro.”  She would become a mainstay at the house singing such roles as Lisa in “La Sonnambula, Musetta in “La Bohème,” Norina in “Don Pasquale,” and as Katja in the world premiere of Guido Turchi’s “Il buono soldato Svejk,” among others.

Fusco also made an international career in the 1970s singing at the Teatro La Fenice, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele of Palermo, the Teatro Massimo Bellini of Catania, the Teatro Regio di Parma, the Teatro della Pergola of Florence, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, the Teatro Petruzzelli,  Grean Teatre del Liceu, La Monnaie, and the Cairo Opera House.

She also performed with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Accademia Filarmonica Romana in Rome, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Fusco also collaborated with Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, Bruno Bartoletti, Alberto Zedda, Oliviero De Fabritiis, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, and Claudio Abbado.

Following her retirement from the stage, she began to teach voice at Italian conservatories and held masterclasses in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Abruzzo, Tuscany, and Sicily.

Fusco left behind recordings of “Rita,” “Gianni Schicchi,” “L’occasione fa il ladro,” and “L’ajo nell’imbarazzo.” She is also featured in Antonini’s “Red Dessert.”