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Mirella Freni (b1935)

Mirella Freni (real name Fregni) was born into a musical family: her aunt, Valentina Bartolomasi, was a well-known soprano during the 1920s, and her uncle first spotted her vocal talent as she sang along to a recording of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. At just ten years old Freni sang in a children’s concert and two years later won a competition for young singers. One of the judges however, the tenor Beniamino Gigli, advised her not to perform until her voice was fully developed and she subsequently studied singing with the distinguished teacher Ettore Campogalliani at Mantua while attending opera performances at Modena’s Teatro Communale. Here Freni made her very successful operatic stage debut as Micaëla / Carmen at the beginning of 1955; but rather than immediately pursuing an operatic career, she married the coach and conductor Leone Magiera, giving birth to their daughter Micaela in 1956. With the encouragement of her husband she did however return to performing, in 1958 winning first prize in the prestigious Viotti Competition in Vercelli.




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