Obituary: Soprano Gianna Rolandi Passes at 68

By Nicolas Quiroga

American soprano Gianna Rolandi died on Sunday, June 20, 2021 at age 68.

Rolandi was born in New York City on August 16, 1952, and grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her mother Jane Frazier was also a lyrical singer and her father was an Italian-born obstetrician.

Rolandi began her musical studies as a violinist, but opera, especially such works as “Tosca” and “Madama Butterfly,” made her change her tastes and her training. She took her first singing classes at the Brevard Music Center where she took on several coloratura roles and performed for the first time.

She then studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and eventually became a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions and winner of the Minna Kaufmann Ruud pageant. Rolandi made his debut at the New York City Opera in 1975. She also performed with a wide range of major ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Among her major roles were Susanna in “Le Nozze di Figaro,” Rosina in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” Gilda in “Rigoletto,” the Queen of the Night in “Die Zauberfl√∂te,” and Cleopatra in “Giulio Cesare.”

She was a director and lead instructor at the Lyric Opera of the Chicago Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center and at the University of Michigan.