I don't usually weep for deceased opera singers but the death of Anna Moffo reminds me that nobody stays young forever.
Moffo will be remembered primarily I suspect as a very beautfiul woman, which indeed she was. Her death last week at age 73 came thirty years after the short lived prime of her voice. Her career began in Italy in the mid fifties, and there were still some good performances to be heard until around 1975. After that it was chancy at best and horrible at worst. Those of you born after 1975 would not have heard her at her best, but her many recordings still offer a lot of pleasure.
Traviata-Violetta was her signature role
Villa-Lobos, Canteloube, Rachmaninoff with Stokowski
Marriage of Figaro
these recordings and many more are all available and have been catalogue favorites for forty years. There's a reason for that. She had a lovely voice with a lot of warm, sort of dark rose colored overtones. She was a terrific actress. She sang WITH the music, using text and notes to create character. (The old fashioned way!)
She meant what she sang.
Anna Moffo was born in Wayne, PA . She trained at Curtis, and made her mark first in
Italy. Her earliest recordings were with Karajan, Callas, Giulini, Schwarzkopf and Colin Davis. There are also a number of beautiful opera films with her: Lucia di Lammermoor, Daughter of the Regiment and Madama Butterfly among them. She had a brief "nudie" phase in Italain cinema in the early sixties, but by the mid seveties, though her voice was suffering she settled down to a long and happy marriage with RCA Chairman Robert Sarnoff. He died in 1997.
My own favorites would be the Rondine with the famous "Sogno di doretta" and the even more beautiful "Ore dolce e divine", Luisa Miller (Verdi) and Butterfly. I last saw her on stage as Violetta, in Providence RI in the late 70s and there were still some good notes left. I last saw her in person at Carnegie Hall last year, she was in the audience. I went up to say hello to her and got a hug, diamonds and all.
The collpase of her voice has never really been explained. She "owned" it and blamed it on exhaustion and too much work and she may have been right. But when it was good, it was splendid. Go find her recoridngs and films in the library. Enjoy, and say a prayer for her. In the era of Callas, Tebaldi, Milanov, Price, Corelli, Merrill and Siepi, Anna was a class act.