Mirella Freni, ( Cavaliere OMRI Italian: , born [miˈrɛlːa ˈfreːni] Mirella Fregni, 27 February 1935 – 9 February 2020) was an Italian operatic  who had a career of 50 years and appeared at major international opera houses. She received international attention at the soprano , where she appeared as Zerlina in Mozart's Glyndebourne Festival and as Adina in Donizetti's Don Giovanni . L'elisir d'amore
Freni is associated with the role of Mimi in Puccini's
, La bohème which she sang at  in Milan and the La Scala in 1963, conducted by Vienna State Opera . Herbert von Karajan She also performed the role in a film of the production and as her debut at the  in New York City in 1965. Metropolitan Opera In the earliest opera DVDs, she portrayed her characters convincingly in both acting and singing.  Freni was married for many years to the Bulgarian  bass , with whom she performed and recorded. Her obituary from Nicolai Ghiaurov describes her as a "matchless Italian prima donna". The New York Times  Life
, she had the same wet-nurse as Modena , with whom she grew up and who was to become a frequent tenor partner on stage. Luciano Pavarotti She studied voice first with her uncle, Dante Arcelli,  then with Luigi Bertazzoni and  . She later changed her name thinking it was easier to pronounce. Ettore Campogalliani Freni made her operatic debut at the  in her hometown on 3 March 1955 as Micaëla in Bizet's Teatro Municipale . Carmen  She later married her teacher, the pianist and director  ; Leone Magiera the couple had a daughter.  Freni resumed her career in 1958 when she performed Mimì in Puccini's  at the La bohème , Teatro Regio in Turin and sang in  's 1959–60 season. Her international breakthrough came at the De Nederlandse Opera , where she appeared in 1960 as Zerlina in Mozart's Glyndebourne Festival , Don Giovanni alongside  as Donna Anna, and in 1962 as Susanna in Joan Sutherland , and as Adina in Donizetti's The Marriage of Figaro , directed by L'elisir d'amore . Franco Zeffirelli   
In 1961, Freni first performed at the
in London as Nannetta in Verdi's Royal Opera House . Falstaff She stepped in as Nanetta at  in Milan for La Scala . Renata Scotto On 31 January 1963, she appeared there as Mimi in a production staged by  and conducted by Franco Zeffirelli . Herbert von Karajan She became one of the conductor 's favourite singers in operas and concerts.  The production was repeated at the  the same year, Vienna State Opera  and she appeared at the house in eleven roles, including the title role of Puccini's  , and Amelia in Verdi's Manon Lescaut . Simon Boccanegra 
On 29 September 1965, she first appeared at the
in New York City, again as Mimi, Metropolitan Opera with  as Rodolfo who also made his house debut. Reviewer Alan Rich wrote in the Gianni Raimondi : New York Herald Tribune
Miss Freni is-well, "irresistible"-will do for a start. Beautiful to look at, and actress of simple naturalness and overwhelming intelligence, she used voice and gesture to create a Mimi of ravishing femininity and grace. The voice itself is pure and fresh, operating without seam from bottom to top, marvelously colored at every point by what seems to be an instinctive response to the urging of the text.
She later appeared there as Adina in Donizetti's
, L'elisir d'amore Liù in Puccini's  , Marguerite in Gounod's Turandot , Juliette in Faust , Roméo et Juliette as Susanna, Micaela and Manon Lescaut.  The following year she sang Mimì again for her  debut, with Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company as Rodolfo. From the early 1970s into the 1980s, Freni sang heavier Verdi roles, Flaviano Labò including Elisabetta in  's production of John Dexter , Desdemona in Don Carlos (alongside Otello ), Amelia in Jon Vickers , Elvira in the Simon Boccanegra staging of Luca Ronconi , Leonora in Ernani , and the title role of La forza del destino performed in the Aida in 1987. She appeared as Puccini's Houston Grand Opera only on a recording. She performed as Manon Lescaut in the Metropolitan Opera's 1990 season, Tosca and recorded  Madama Butterfly and the three roles of  . Il trittico 
Freni chose her roles carefully, saying in an interview: "I am generous in many ways, but not when I think it will destroy my voice. Some singers think they are gods who can do everything. But I have always been honest with myself and my possibilities."
. She refused Karajan's offers of Leonora in Verdi's  and the title role in Puccini's Il trovatore . Turandot Elvira in  Ernani was set aside after a single run at La Scala (and despite offers to sing the role elsewhere). She never sang Cio-Cio-San on stage, but recorded it twice, not including the 1975 film  Madama Butterfly, alongside , with Karajan conducting and Plácido Domingo directing. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle She played Susanna in the Ponnelle film  , which also featured Le nozze di Figaro , Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Kiri Te Kanawa . Hermann Prey 
In 1978, after her marriage to Magiera had ended in divorce,
she married  , one of the leading operatic Nicolai Ghiaurov of the post-war period. Together they helped to establish the Centro Universale del Bel Canto in basses , where they began giving master classes in 2002. After Ghiaurov's death in 2004, Freni continued their work of preserving the Vignola tradition, teaching young singers from around the world. bel canto 
Freni extended her repertoire and style during the 1990s with Italian
, Verismo taking on the title roles of Francesco Cilea's  in Milan, Paris, Barcelona and New York, and Umberto Giordano's Adriana Lecouvreur in London, Milan, New York, Torino, Barcelona and Zürich. In 1997, she performed Giordano's Fedora at the Madame Sans-Gêne . Teatro Massimo Bellini During this time she sang in Russian operas, such as Tchaikovsky's Tatiana in  , Lisa in Eugene Onegin , and Ioanna in The Queen of Spades . Freni ended her professional career on stage, performing teenager Ioanna at the age of 70 at the The Maid of Orleans on 11 April 2005. Washington National Opera 
Freni died on 9 February 2020 at her home in Modena. According to her manager, she died "after a long degenerative illness and a series of strokes".
  Honours
Freni was awarded the
in the grade of Knight Grand Cross in 1990, Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and the French  in March 1993. Legion of Honour In 1995, she was appointed Commander of the  . Ordre des Arts et des Lettres The  awarded her an honorary degree in 2002 for her "great contribution to European culture." University of Pisa In 2009, she was promoted to the rank of Officer in the Legion of Honour.  
In 2005, the
celebrated the 40th anniversary of her Met debut and her 50th anniversary on stage with a special gala concert conducted by Metropolitan Opera . James Levine  Videography References ^ a b c d Tommasini, Anthony (9 February 2020). "Mirella Freni, Matchless Italian Prima Donna, Dies at 84" . Retrieved – via NYTimes.com. 9 February 2020 ^ a b c d e Hopkins, Kate (10 February 2020). "Remembering Mirella Freni (1935–2020) / The Italian soprano was one of the greatest interpreters of Mimì in La bohème". Royal Opera House . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ a b c d Sinkovicz, Wilhelm (10 February 2020). "Mirella Freni: Sie sang. Und das genügte". Die Presse (in German) . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ a b c d e f g h i Blum, Ronald (9 February 2020). "Renowned Italian soprano Mirella Freni dies at age 84". apnews.com . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ a b c d ; Kutsch, K. J. . Freni, Mirella (in German) (4th ed.). Großes Sängerlexikon . pp. 1558–1559. Walter de Gruyter ISBN . 978-3-59-844088-5 ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brug, Manuel (9 February 2020). "Zum Tod von Mirella Freni / Das allersüßeste Opernmädchen". (in German) Die Welt . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ a b Blyth, Alan (10 February 2020). "Mirella Freni obituary". The Guardian . Retrieved . 12 February 2020 ^ "Mirella Freni dies at 84". gramilano.com. 9 February 2020 . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ a b "Zum Tod von KS Mirella Freni". (in German). 10 February 2020 Vienna State Opera . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ "La Bohème". Metropolitan Opera . Retrieved . 11 February 2020 ^ "Search results for: Freni, Mirella [Soprano]". Metropolitan Opera . Retrieved . 11 February 2020 ^ . "Review/Opera – Mirella Freni as Puccini's Manon Lescaut, at Met" The New York Times . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ "Puccini: Madama Butterfly / Karajan, Freni, Pavarotti". arkivmusic.com . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ Oliver, Michael (August 1994). "Puccini Il Trittico". Gramophone . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ Foletto, Angelo (11 June 1997). "La Diva Mirella Freni Irresistibile Madame". la Repubblica . Retrieved . 21 March 2020 ^ "Freni Sig.ra Mirella". quirinale.it (in Italian) . Retrieved . 11 February 2020 ^ "Ordre des Arts et Lettres". Le Monde. 23 February 1995. ^ "L'Università di Pisa ricorda la soprano Mirella Freni". (in Italian). 10 February 2020 University of Pisa . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ "Applausi per il soprano Mirella Freni Ora è Ufficiale della Legion d'onore". Il Resto del Carlino. 15 April 2009. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (14 May 2005). "For Freni, 50 Years Onstage Is Prelude". The New York Times . Retrieved . 21 March 2020 ^ . "Met Gives Gala Hugs to Itself" The New York Times . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 ^ "The Metropolitan Opera Gala". . 1991 Deutsche Grammophon . Retrieved . 10 February 2020 Further reading Freni, Mirella (1990); Mio Caro Teatro (Mirella Freni memoirs) Magiera, Leone (1990); Mirella Freni Universal Music MGB ISBN 88-7592-083-4 External links