Alda Noni: Soprano celebrated for her roles in Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti

Alda Noni was an Italian light soprano with a beautiful voice and fabulous coloratura technique.

An excellent comedian, with a charming appearance, she delighted audiences for more than 20 years, mainly in the operas of Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti. Her career was disrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, not long after she began her career, so it was not until the end of the 1940s that she was able to take her rightful place on the international operatic stage.

Noni was born in Trieste in 1916. She studied at the Trieste Conservatory and made her debut in 1937 at Ljubljana, in what was then Yugoslavia, as Rosina in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. After appearing in Zagreb and Belgrade, in 1942 she was engaged at the Vienna State Opera, where she sang roles such as Despina in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto and Oscar in that composer's Un Ballo in Maschera.

During 1944, when the 80th birthday of Richard Strauss was being celebrated in Vienna by performances of many of his operas, the composer chose Noni to sing the role of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. As the cast included Maria Reining as Ariadne and Max Lorentz as Bacchus, this was no small compliment to the young soprano, who scored a huge personal success. Later that year she returned to Italy, then made her London debut in 1946 at the Cambridge Theatre in a season of Italian Opera as an enchanting Norina opposite the great baritone Mariano Stabile as Don Pasquale.

Noni came back to London in 1950 during the visit to Covent Garden by the company of La Scala, singing a sprightly young Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff. She had made her debut in Milan the year before as Carolina in Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto and went on to sing two Mozart roles, Papagena in Il Flauto Magico (as it was then billed) and Despina, as well as Armidoro in Piccinni's La Buona Figluola at La Scala. She also sang in Venice, Rome, Turin and at the San Carlo, Naples, visiting the Paris Opéra in 1951 with the San Carlo company as Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera.

Noni's connection with Glyndebourne began in 1949 when she sang Oscar with the company at the Edinburgh Festival. The following year she sang Blonde in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, a role that suited her perfectly and allowed her to show off her authentic German accent. She also sang Despina. In 1952 and 1953 she unveiled the favourite of all her Glyndebourne roles, Clorinda, one of the two Ugly Sisters in Rossini's La Cenerentola. Nothing could make Noni ugly, but she managed to be extremely nasty and spiteful. In 1954 she sang Despina at Edinburgh and Clorinda in one of two performances of La Cenerentola given by Glyndebourne in Berlin.

As well as appearing in Madrid, Lisbon, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, in 1958 she sang at the Bergamo Festival in Galuppi's Il Filosofo di Campagna and the following year went to Tokyo to sing Musetta in Puccini's La Bohème and Adina in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore. She made some fine recordings of her best roles, including Zerbinetta, Norina, Carolina and Clorinda, in which her ebullient personality and charm of manner come through strongly. After retiring she went to live in Cyprus, where she died.

Alda Noni, soprano singer: born Trieste 30 April 1916; married (one daughter); died Cyprus 19 May 2011.

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