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Adelina Patti (1843 - 1919)


Adelina Patti was born into a musical Italian family: her father was the tenor Salvatore Patti and her mother the soprano Caterina Barili. Both her sisters were also singers and her brother a violinist; and it is probable that she learnt much from her brother-in-law, the musician Maurice Strakosch. When she was young the family moved to New York City, where she sang professionally as a child; and at only sixteen she made her operatic stage debut in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Academy of Music, New York.

A mere two years later, Patti made her debut in 1861 at the Royal Opera House, London, as Amina / La sonnambula and settled in London, buying a house in Clapham. From England she went on to conquer Europe, appearing as Amina in Paris and Vienna with great success, and later singing further afield in Russia and South America.

Acclaimed as one of the most outstanding singers of her generation, Patti possessed a beautiful voice, extraordinary technical facility, and excellent musical taste. Her repertoire included Marguerite de Valois / Les Huguenots, Zerlina / Don Giovanni, Leonora / Il trovatore and the title role in Martha. In 1862 she sang for President Lincoln at the White House: her programme included John Howard Payne’s ballad ‘Home, Sweet Home’ (set by Henry Bishop), with which she was to become closely associated.

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