Francesco Cilea, the composer of Adriana Lecouvreur petitioned her to return to the stage to sing his beloved Adriana again [a brief and tantalizing film clip from a 1934 Covent Garden performance with Beniamino Gigli exists as well as many complete audio recordings most of which are in our catalog] and after repeated petitions she decided to return to the stage. Sadly Cilea died before he was able to hear her sing Adriana again, but his request for her return opened what is possibly the most amazing career in operatic history. Her international career exploded and she was in demand by all of the prestigious European houses. Her American debut [in Dallas 1967 as an incredible Medea] was immediately talked about in all the operatic circles, and this "new" sensation became well known to those who understood the world of opera well.
After forty years of being an international sensation and the most unique singer in the world, she finally made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Tosca in 1975. It was Marilyn Horne who pressed the Metropolitan Opera administration to engage her for these performances. Her American appearances, primarily in Hartford, Newark,
San Francisco and Dallas were always met by an incredible [and sometimes wild] outpouring of applause, bravos, and love by an appreciative audience who had the privilege of hearing the last great verismo soprano embody a role and make it come to life.
Olivero's voice, typical of the veristic Italian tradition, with its rapid vibrato and delicate shades of nuance and color enabled her to paint the music with her own personal stamp. Olivero was not just a great singer, she was a consummate interpreter who gave her audiences the gift of true "living" opera. One has to only listen to one of her live recordings to hear the electricity she generates on stage [just listen to acts 2 and 3 of her Fedora from Newarkas an example] and the thunderous applause and wild enthusiasm that followed her art.
Olivero's most popular roles were Adriana Lecouvreur, Iris, Fedora, La Bohème, La Fanciulla Del West, La Traviata, La Wally, Madama Butterfly, Medea, Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Mefistofele, and Turandot (as Liù). Her Minnie in La Fanciulla Del West has set the standard for other sopranos. Her voice, while not having the dramatic "heft" of some others, had the ability to carry in the largest opera houses in the world due to her impeccable technique. One has to merely listen to one of her recordings to realize, they are in the presence of [and not just listening to] greatness.
Magda Olivero sang well into her late 80's and sang an occasional song or aria even after that. Her singing even at an advanced age is a model of what a great voice and technique can do. Olivero at the age of 103 is still with us and as such is the greatest living legend in the world of opera. She is truly an international treasure and this amazing lady is a gift to the ages to come.
One can hear Olivero in all of her great roles on cds available in our catalog. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Below are a few video clips for your enjoyment.