Margherita Carosio

Soprano at La Scala
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The Independent Online

In September 1950, during a short season given by the company from La Scala, Milan, at Covent Garden, there was a performance of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in which the heroine Adina was sung by the Italian soprano Margherita Carosio. Though no longer very young - she had first sung at Covent Garden more than 20 years previously - she was utterly delightful in appearance, voice and personality. I, a young opera fan devoted to Wagner, who up till then had thought Donizetti quite beyond the pale, was totally captivated. Of course it helped that Nemorino was sung by the tenor Ferruccio Tagliavini, but it was Carosio, with her sense of fun and her exquisite phrasing, that won me over.

Margherita Carosio, opera singer: born Genoa 7 June 1908; died Genoa 10 January 2005.

In September 1950, during a short season given by the company from La Scala, Milan, at Covent Garden, there was a performance of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in which the heroine Adina was sung by the Italian soprano Margherita Carosio. Though no longer very young - she had first sung at Covent Garden more than 20 years previously - she was utterly delightful in appearance, voice and personality. I, a young opera fan devoted to Wagner, who up till then had thought Donizetti quite beyond the pale, was totally captivated. Of course it helped that Nemorino was sung by the tenor Ferruccio Tagliavini, but it was Carosio, with her sense of fun and her exquisite phrasing, that won me over.

Margherita Carosio was born in Genoa in 1908. Her father, the composer Natale Carosio, oversaw her musical education. She studied at the Paganini Conservatory in Genoa, and first sang in concert in 1924. She made her operatic début in 1927 at Novi Ligure, not far from Genoa, singing the title role of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Her easy command of coloratura was greatly admired. In 1928 she sang at Covent Garden, appearing as Musetta in La bohème and also as Xenia in Boris Godunov - the Boris was Fyodor Shalyapin. She made her début at La Scala in 1929 as Oscar in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera and sang there every season from 1931, apart from the war years, until 1952, in an amazingly wide repertory.

The first opera heard at Covent Garden after the Second World War was a season given by the San Carlo Company in 1946. Carosio sang three roles during the season including Violetta in La traviata, which was generally acknowledged to be her finest interpretation. She also sang Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and one performance of Nedda in Pagliacci, with a young Mario del Monaco as Canio.

Carosio took part in the Donizetti celebrations at Bergamo in 1942 to commemorate the centenary of the composer's death, singing the title role of La Betly. After her retirement from La Scala, she worked as a music journalist and critic.

Elizabeth Forbes

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