(By request from Nate@meltzerboy) The ever flamboyant and dazzling Italian coloratura soprano Luisa Tetrazzini (1871-1940), one of the great stars from the "Golden Age of Opera", in Amina's sleepwalking scene "Ah, non credea mirarti" from Act 2 of Bellini's La Sonnambula. Two versions are presented here: The first was recorded on 2 June 1909 for Gramophone Co., while the second was recorded on 16 March 1911 for Victor.
The following biography of the singer comes from Subito-Cnatabile: A Site for Collectors of Recordings of the Great Singers from the Past ("Born in Florence, she first studied with her sister (the soprano Eva Tetrazzini), then with Contrucci and Ceccherini before her début at the Pagliano in Florence as Inès in L'Africana (1890). Tetrazzini then sang at the Argentina in Rome before she began an extensive series of appearances in the Italian provinces, Eastern Europe, South America, Spain and Mexico in the years between 1891 and 1906. She then managed to sneak past Nellie Melba's guard and made a sensation at Covent Garden (1907) as Violetta, and returned to London each season till 1912. There, she was well liked as Gilda, Lucia, Amina, Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots and a handful of other roles.
At the Metropolitan in New York, management made the seemingly impossible mistake (in more ways than one) of letting Tetrazzini slip through their fingers and into the hands of Oscar Hammerstein at the Manhattan Opera. At the latter house, beginning in 1908, she was the toast of New York in her London repertoire and as Lakmé, Dinorah, Elvira in I Puritani and other new interpretations. Tetrazzini eventually did sing at the Met, very briefly, making only eight appearances there as Lucia, Gilda and Violetta during the 1911 -- 12 season. She also sang with the Boston and Chicago companies (1911 -- 1914), but thereafter confined herself primarily to recitals and concert appearances. These she was obliged to continue well past her prime (the last was in London, 1934), since three husbands had helped to totally deplete the vast fortunes she had earned in her heyday. She consoled herself with seances, at which she claimed to have communicated with the spirits of Adelina Patti, Caruso and Tamagno. By the time of her death in Milan, there was no money left at all.
If the little pearl of wisdom "It ain't over till the fat lady sings" bore any truth whatsoever, the curtain would have fallen as soon as Luisa Tetrazzini opened her mouth, or even set foot on the stage for that matter. Heftier than the heftiest of her compatriots, here was a truly "Rubenesque," robust prima donna from the days of yore, plump as a spring robin, but possessed of a lovely coloratura no feathered songbird could have matched. She was also witty and good-natured, with a flair for fun that made her splendid in comedic roles.
Luisa Tetrazzini was truly an opera "star" of international proportions, with an almost unflawed coloratura. She had a highly polished mastery of her art, with a sensational command of the most difficult and florid music ever composed for her type of voice. Her voice rang out brilliantly and firmly, except for occasional lapses in the lower ranges which critics always made a point of taking note. Any modern day soprano might learn volumes by taking the time to study even a handful of her recordings."