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Lina Pagliughi (1907 - 1980)

Lina Pagliughi’s parents were of Italian origin: her mother hailed from Albareto, near Parma and her father, though born in Montevideo, was from a Genoese family. When Lina was two, the family moved from New York to San Francisco, where the large Italian immigrant population organized numerous musical events. She began to sing in public with success from the age of eight, often accompanied at the piano by her sister Flora. Because of her excellent musical recall—she was able to sing songs perfectly after just a single initial hearing—Lina was hailed as a prodigy by a local newspaper and sought to pursue a musical education.

Initial parental opposition was quelled when Beniamino Gigli and Luisa Tetrazzini both recognized Pagliughi’s exceptional qualities. At the age of fifteen, having first studied in Brescia, she moved to Milan where she studied repertoire with Gaetano Bavagnoli before making her operatic stage debut as Gilda / Rigoletto in 1927 at Milan’s Teatro Nazionale. This was soon followed by the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele, Turin whereupon Pagliughi was promptly cast in HMV’s complete recording of Rigoletto, conducted by Carlo Sabajno, the first electrical recording of this opera. Another significant event was her early marriage to the tenor Primo Montanari (1895–1972).




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