Biography of Italian Opera Singer Amelita Galli-Curci Part 2

About the famous Italian opera singer Amelita Galli-Curci, history and biography of the vocalist.



Galli-Curci made her Metropolitan debut in La Traviata on Nov. 14, 1921. For 18 seasons, the gala opening night had featured Enrico Caruso. But his death in August had ended this tradition. His place was taken by Galli-Curci until the 1929-1930 season, her last appearance there, and the first for her replacement, Lily Pons.

During tours to Uruguay, South Africa, and India, Galli-Curci's old goiter problem became worse. She was operated on in June, 1935, in Chicago. The operation was performed with a local anesthetic, and the great diva sang at intervals to help the surgeon in his effort to restore her displaced trachea to its original golden position. The operation was successful, and on Sept. 11, 1936, the Associated Press, in banner headlines, cried, "Galli-Curci to Sing Again!"

Her comeback, as Mimi on Nov. 24, was a disaster, when the audience settled back to hear "Mi chiamano Mimi," they heard nothing. Galli-Curci, struck dumb by stage fright, required some time to regain her composure. These embarrassing moments saddened those who remembered her improvised solution to a crisis during a Traviata of earlier years. A stray black cat had wandered onstage, threatening the performance with slapstick comedy. Galli-Curci had promptly covered it with "Violetta's" full crinoline skirts. With the cat thus trapped, she had sidestepped slowly to the wings, still singing. Once there, she had booted the cat into the hands of a crouching stagehand.

The critics greeted her return with gentle but noncommittal reviews, and her opera-singing days were numbered. In 1936 she retired to Westwood, Calif., and on Nov. 26, 1963, she died in La Jolla. Mourners recalled Illinois coach Bub Zuppke's comment when someone deprecated Red Grange's football prowess by telling him that all Grange could do was run. "All Galli-Curci can do," Zuppke had replied dryly, "is sing."

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