Obituary: Legendary Soprano Antonietta Stella Dies at 92

By Francisco Salazar

On Feb 23, 2022, Antonietta Stella died at the age of 92.

Born in Perugia, Italy on March 15, 1929, Stella studied at the Conservatory of Perugia and at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.

In 1959 she made her debut in Spoleto as Leonora in “Il Trovatore,” one of the roles she would be best known for. A year later, the soprano appeared at the Rome Opera as Leonora in “La Forza del Destino” and quickly became one of the most sought-after sopranos in Italy. She would sing in Florence, Naples, Parma, Turin, Catania, Verona, and Venice.

In 1954 Stella made her debut at the Teatro alla La Scala in Milan as Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello,” which catapulted her career to an international level. She became a regular at the company until 1963  and performed such roles as Leonora in “Il Trovatore,” Violetta in “La traviata,” Elisabetta in “Don Carlos,” Amelia in “Un ballo in maschera,” the title roles in “Aida” and “Tosca,” Mimi in “La bohème,” Maddalena in “Andrea Chénier,” and Cio-Cio-San in “Madama Butterfly.”

In 1955, she made her debuts at the Wiener Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House in London, the Paris Opera, La Monnaie, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Then in 1956 she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as “Aida” and sang with the company until 1960. In total, she would perform 71 times in New York and had particular success in a new production of “Madama Butterfly” as well as Leonora in “Il Trovatore” in a new production. Critics raved about her Leonora noting, “Stella used her large and smooth voice effectively through most of the role.”

Throughout her career, she became known as one of the finest Italian spinto sopranos of the 1950s and 1960s and was associated with Verdi and Puccini roles.

Stella made a number of important recordings including “Aroldo,” “Attila,” “Linda di Chamounix,” “La battaglia di Legnano,” “L’Africaine,” and “Simon Boccanegra.” Some of her most famous recordings include “Il Trovatore,” “Tosca,” “La Traviata,” “Don Carlo,” “Un Ballo in Maschera,” and “Andrea Chenier.” She also has Italian television productions of “Andrea Chénier,” opposite Mario del Monaco and “La Fanciulla del West.”