|Year of Birth:||Not entered yet.|
|Year of Death:||1922|
Rita Fornia (17 July 1878 – 27 October 1922) was an American opera singer. She began her career in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century singing coloratura soprano roles. Early on in her career her voice darkened and dropped slightly causing her to focus more within the mezzo-soprano repertoire while still singing some soprano roles. She joined the Metropolitan Opera company in 1907 where she performed regularly in mostly supporting roles until her retirement in 1922. She is best remembered today for portraying the role of the Abbess in the original production of Puccini's Suor Angelica in 1918.
Fornia was born in San Francisco, California as Regina Newman on 17 July 1878. Her parents were immigrants from Prussia and her father owned a successful business as a wholesale jeweller. At the age of 12, she attended Adelina Patti's 1890 concert in San Francisco which inspired her to become an opera singer. Her father eventually allowed her to move to New York City in 1898 to pursue her desire.
While in New York, Fornia studied with Emil Fischer and Sofia Scalchi in New York City and then, under Fischer's advice, moved to Berlin in 1899 to study under Selma Nicklass-Kempner. Kempner, later the teacher of Frieda Hempel, trained her as a coloratura soprano. She made her professional début with the Hamburg State Opera in 1901 as Eudoxie in Halévy's La Juive. Over the next two years she sang mostly coloratura soprano roles in Germany and France, largely with the Hamburg State Opera who offered her a contract. Her other roles in Hamburg included Rosina in The Barber of Seville and the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute. From the Fall of 1902 through the summer of 1903 she studied with Jean de Reszke in Paris. Reszke was convinced the Fornia was actually a mezzo-soprano and trained her voice accordingly. Under Reszke's recommendation to Henry Savage, Fornia returned to America in August 1903 to join the Savage English Grand Opera Company where she sang both mezzo-soprano and soprano roles until 1906. Her first performance with the company was as Siébel in Charles Gounod's Faust at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on 21 September 1903. Her other roles with Savage's company included Musetta in Giacomo Puccini's La bohème, Nedda in Pagliacci, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, both Brünnhilde and Sieglinde in The Valkyrie, both Elisabeth and Venus in Wagner's Tannhäuser, and both Leonora and Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore.