Lucrezia Bori

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Lucrezia Bori

Lucrezia Bori (24 December 1887 – 14 May 1960) was a Spanish operatic singer, a lyric soprano and a tireless and effective fundraiser for the Metropolitan Opera.

A soprano[soˈpraːno] is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.



Lucrezia Bori was born on December 24, 1887, in Valencia, Spain. Her real name was Lucrecia Borja y González de Riancho. Her father was an officer in the Spanish army. Her family were descended from the influential family of the Italian Renaissance, the House of Borgia and she herself was named after her ancestor, Lucrezia Borgia. [1] [2] [3]

House of Borgia noble family

The House of Borgia was an Italo-Spanish noble family, which rose to prominence during the Italian Renaissance. They were from Aragon, the surname being a toponymic from the town of Borja, then in the Crown of Aragon, in Spain.

Lucrezia Borgia Italian noblewoman

Lucrezia Borgia was a Spanish-Italian noblewoman of the House of Borgia who was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei. She reigned as the Governor of Spoleto, a position usually held by cardinals, in her own right.

Her voice had a unique timbre and transparent quality unlike any present-day singer. She studied in Milan with Vidal and made her debut at the Teatro Adriano in Rome as Micaëla in Bizet's Carmen on October 31, 1908. In December, 1910, she made her debut at La Scala as Carolina in Il Matrimonio Segreto and the following year, she sang Octavian in the Italian premiere of Der Rosenkavalier there. [1] [3]

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,372,810 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,245,308. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Teatro Adriano cinema and former theatre in Rome, Italy

The Teatro Adriano, also known as Politeama Adriano and Cinema Adriano, is a cinema and former theatre located in Piazza Cavour, Rome, Italy.

<i>Carmen</i> opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet

Carmen is an opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked and scandalized its first audiences.

Her career at the Metropolitan Opera began in the summer of 1910 during the Met's first visit to Paris. On June 9 of that year she replaced a singer who had become ill in the role of Manon in Puccini's Manon Lescaut. On the opening night of the 1912-13 season, she made her debut with the Met in New York when she sang Manon opposite Enrico Caruso. [2] In 1915 she was forced to stop singing for a surgical operation to remove nodes on her vocal cords. Following a lengthy convalescence, she returned to the stage in 1921. During the course of her career with the Opera, she appeared a total of 654 times and sang the leading role in 39 operas. She was famous for her portrayals of Manon in Massenet's opera; Mimì in La bohème ; Fiora in L' amore dei trè rè ; Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande ; and Violetta in La traviata . [1] [2] [4] [5]

<i>Manon Lescaut</i> (Puccini) opera by Giacomo Puccini

Manon Lescaut is an opera in four acts by Giacomo Puccini, composed between 1890 and 1893. The story is based on the 1731 novel L'histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost. In 1884 an opera by Jules Massenet entitled Manon, and based on the same novel, was premiered and has also become popular.

Enrico Caruso Italian operatic tenor

Enrico Caruso was an Italian operatic tenor. He sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas, appearing in a wide variety of roles from the Italian and French repertoires that ranged from the lyric to the dramatic. Caruso also made approximately 260 commercially released recordings from 1902 to 1920. All of these recordings, which span most of his stage career, remain available today on CDs and as downloads and digital streams.

<i>La bohème</i> opera by Giacomo Puccini

La bohème is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger. The world premiere of La bohème was in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio, conducted by the 28-year-old Arturo Toscanini. Since then, La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide.

Beginning late in 1932, Bori began a career as fundraiser. When the Great Depression struck, the Met continued to sell tickets to performances with no difficulty, but the contributions of its stockholders fell off dramatically and by the end of 1932 the board of directors found that a great deal of money would be needed if the next season were to be held. Early in 1933, Bori agreed to work with the Opera's managers to obtain the funds. In this work she was not a figurehead. She headed an organization called the Committee to Save the Metropolitan Opera House and, in actions that were widely reported in the press, she made appeals by flyer, letter, and in personal contacts with potential benefactors. After a personal appeal from her during a radio broadcast of Manon, she sent personal acknowledgements to the thousands of people who responded. She also traveled widely and participated in numerous benefits, at which she performed. [1] [6] During this period of fundraising, she continued to carry out an arduous schedule of performance. It took only two months to raise the $300,000 that was needed. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

In May 1933, the chairman of the Metropolitan board publicly thanked Bori, saying she had accomplished a feat that was thought to be impossible. He said she "took command of the situation and applied to the fulfillment of the purpose in hand the same qualities of imagination and genius which have, in her own work made her one of the greatest artists of all time." [14]

From 1933 to 1935 Bori served as chair of the "Maintain the Metropolitan" committee which had succeeded the "Save the Metropolitan" committee. To assure the viability of the 1934-35 opera season, this committee raised an amount approximately equal to the sum raised the previous year. [15] In 1935, she was the first performer to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Opera Association. In joining the board she continued to sit on its opera management committee. [16]

Her farewell gala on March 29, 1936 was one of the great events at the Metropolitan. Bori sang scenes from Manon and La traviata, with contributions from Flagstad, Melchior, Rethberg, Pinza, Ponselle, Martinelli, Tibbett and Richard Crooks.

Bori continued to perform in recitals and record for some years after her Metropolitan retirement; she can be heard, for example, in "off-the-air" recordings of a Hollywood Bowl concert from 1937, singing "Si, mi chiamano Mimì" and "O soave fanciulla" with Tenor Joseph Bentonelli, with the LA Philharmonic under Otto Klemperer. After her retirement from singing she was named chairman of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Under her leadership the Guild collected musical instruments for military hospitals and performed other war activities as well as boosting opera throughout the country. [7]

Bori suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on May 2, 1960, and she died in Roosevelt Hospital on May 14. She had never married, believing that artists should not do so. [1] [2] [7]


Bori's complete Victor recordings were published on four compact discs by Romophone in 1995, numbers 81016-2 and 81017-2, [17] with transfers and audio restoration by Ward Marston, who is planning a re-issue of her complete Edison recordings in his own Marstonrecords label. Live recordings (airchecks) also exist of her farewell gala at the Met on 29 March 1936.

Bori's recordings of "El Jilguerito con Pico de Oro" (Blas de Laserna) and arias de "Acis y Galatea" (Literes) with George Copeland (piano) were published on a compilation CD, named Great Voices of the Century Sing Exotica, published by SanCtuS Recordings, on which Bori appears in the context of other great voices of her time.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Catalano, Julie (1993). Diane Telgen; Jim Kamp, eds. "Lucrezia Bori" in Notable Hispanic American Women. Gale Research, Inc. pp. 58–59. ISBN   978-0-8103-7578-9.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Lucrezia Bori Dies, Famed Opera Singer Of Met 'Golden Age'" (PDF). Philadelphia Inquirer. 1960-05-15. Retrieved 2014-07-19.
  3. 1 2 "Only Singing Phase of Her Career Is Ended, Lucrezia Bori Insists". New York Times. 1936-03-30. p. 16.
  4. Paul Jackson (1992). Saturday Afternoons at the Old Met: The Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts, 1931-1950. Amadeus Press. p. 60. ISBN   978-0-931340-48-2.
  5. H. Howard Taubman (1936-03-30). "Metropolitan Pays Homage to Bori As Diva Sings Farewell to Stage". New York Times. p. 1.
  6. Joseph Horowitz (2005). Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall. W.W. Norton. pp. 363–64. ISBN   978-0-393-05717-1.
  7. 1 2 3 Braggiotti, Mary (1943-10-25). "La Bori's in Tune With Times" (PDF). New York Evening Post. Retrieved 2014-07-19.
  8. Federal Writers' Project (1939). New York City Guide; American Guide Series. Random House, New York, Printed for the Federal Writers' Project, 1939. pp. 324–25. ISBN   978-1-62376-055-7.
  9. "Lucrezia Bori, Soprano, Dead; Was a 'Met' Star for 24 Years". New York Times. 1960-05-15. p. 1.
  10. "Lucrezia Bori Reveals Part Radio Listeners Are Playing to Keep Metropolitan Doors Open Next Season". New York Times. 1933-03-26.
  11. "Pleas For Opera Win Wide Replies; About 2,000 Letters Daily Reaching Lucrezia Bori". New York Times. 1933-03-01.
  12. "Opera Saved As Benefit Nets $30,000" (PDF). Brookly Daily Eagle. 1933-04-29. Retrieved 2014-07-19.
  13. "H. Howard Taubman (1936-03-30). "Metropolitan Pays Homage to Bori As Diva Sings Farewell to Stage". New York Times. p. 1.
  14. "Opera Heads Laud Bori for Campaign". New York Times. 1933-05-01.
  15. "Opera Group Asks New Fund Support; Lucrezia Bori's Committee". New York Times. 1934-03-09.
  16. "Miss Lucrezia Bori Now On Opera Board". New York Times. 1935-05-28.
  17. Steane, John Barry. Historic vocal Lucrezia Bori Opera and Operetta Arias, Volumes 1 and 2. Lucrezia Bori (sop) with various artists, The Gramophone, November 1996, p. 54. Accessed 27 February 2012