Magda Olivero (Magda Olivero)

Magda Olivero

Magda Olivero (25 March 1910 – 8 September 2014) was an Italian operatic soprano. Her career started in 1932 when she was 22, and later took her to opera houses around the world. Born as Maria Maddalena Olivero in Saluzzo, Italy, she made her operatic debut in 1932 on radio in Turin radio singing Nino Cattozzo’s (1886–1961) oratorio, I misteri dolorosi. She performed widely and increasingly successfully until 1941, when she married and retired from performing. She returned to the stage ten years later, at the request of Francesco Cilea, who asked her to sing again the title role in his opera Adriana Lecouvreur. From 1951 until her final retirement, Olivero sang in opera houses around the world. Among her most renowned interpretations were the leading parts in Adriana Lecouvreur, Iris, Fedora, La bohème, La fanciulla del West, La traviata, La Wally, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, Mefistofele, and Turandot (as Liù). She sang in Cherubini’s Médée (in the Italian version)at the Dallas Opera in 1967 and in Kansas City in 1968. In 1975, Olivero made her début at the Metropolitan Opera in Tosca. Her last performances on stage were in March 1981 in the one-woman opera, La voix humaine by Poulenc, in Verona; her stage career ending at age 71, after spanning nearly 50 years. She continued to sing sacred music locally and, well into her eighties, made a recording of several arias. Recordings exist of many of her performances of both full operas, arias and scenes.

Magda Olivero died at the Istituto Auxologico di Milano aged 104. Among her studio recordings are Turandot (as Liù, with Gina Cigna, for Cetra Records, 1938), Fedora (with Mario Del Monaco and Tito Gobbi, conducted by Lamberto Gardelli, for Decca, 1969) and highlights from Francesca da Rimini (with Del Monaco, conducted by Nicola Rescigno, for Decca, 1969). In 1993, she recorded, with piano accompaniment, Adriana Lecouvreur (with Marta Moretto as the Princesse de Bouillon); excerpts from this recording were published on the Bongiovanni label. At age 86, she performed Adriana’s monologue in Jan Schmidt-Garre’s film Opera Fanatic. She made occasional singing appearances well into her nineties.

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  • March, 25, 1910
  • Saluzzo, Italy


  • September, 08, 2014
  • Milan, Italy


  • Cimitero Monumentale di Milano
  • Milan, Italy

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