Fiorenza Cossotto (born on April 22, 1935) is an Italian mezzo soprano. She is considered by many to be one of the great mezzo-sopranos of the 20th century. Born on April 22, 1936 in Crescentino, Province of Vercelli, Italy, Cossotto attended the Turin Academy of Music and graduated top of her class. After her studies with Mercedes Llopart, she made her operatic debut as Sister Matilde in the world premiere of Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites in 1957 at La Scala in Milan. Her international debut was at the 1958 Wexford Festival as Giovanna Seymour in Donizetti's Anna Bolena. Her Covent Garden debut was in 1959 as Neris in Cherubini's Médée, with Maria Callas in the title role. A 1962 performance of the lead in La favorita at La Scala led to wider fame and she made her American debut in the same role in 1964 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and as Amneris at the Metropolitan Opera in 1968. Altogether between the seasons of 1967--68 and 1988--89 she gave 148 performances at the Met (exclusively leading roles). She was considered an expert in portrayals of major mezzo/contralto roles in mid-19th century Italian opera; e.g. Favorita, Amneris, Azucena, Eboli, Preziosilla, Maddalena, Ulrica and Laura. She also essayed Carmen, Mozart's Cherubino, Urbain in Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, Bellini's Romeo and Marfa in Khovantschina. She kept on singing, and in 2005 she celebrated her 70th birthday with a performance of Suor Angelica at the Théâtre Royal in Liège, Belgium. According to the book "Opera" published by Koenemann, "She [Cossotto] and Giulietta Simionato were the leading Italian mezzo-sopranos of the 1960s and 1970s. She [Cossotto] won plaudits in the annals of operatic history for her wonderful vocal timbre, her perfect singing technique, and the ease with which she could master different registers. Besides singing the great mezzo roles, she also took the outstanding alto parts of the Italian operatic repertoire." Among her competitors were Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Rita Gorr, Christa Ludwig, Marilyn Horne, Viorica Cortez and Tatiana Troyanos. Apart from mezzo and alto roles, she also sang soprano roles traditionally sung by mezzos such as Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana) and Adalgisa (Norma). She sang Adalgisa next to the Normas of Callas, Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, Leyla Gencer and Elena Souliotis. Full live documents (except only partially for Callas) of these performances have been commercially released in audio and/or video. She also tried her luck in soprano roles (alas in studio only) of Lady Macbeth and Marchesa del Poggio (Un giorno di regno), and made a commercial recording of soprano arias by Verdi. Her repertory at the Met included Amneris, Eboli, Adalgisa, Santuzza, Azucena, Dalila, Carmen (only on tour and in outdoor park concerts), Principessa (Adriana Lecouvreur) and Mistress Quickly (which she added in 1985, singing with Giuseppe Taddei as Falstaff)... With
Lyrics & English Translation
She was led to her destiny in chains! With the child in my arm, I followed her weeping. I tried, in vain, to reach her... In vain the wretch tried to stop and bless me! For, among terrible curses, prodding her with their weapons they pushed her towards the stake, those cruel men! Then, with broken accents she exclaimed: "Revenge!" That word eternally reverberates in this heart. I managed to kidnap the Count's child: I dragged him hither... the flames were ready. He was crying his heart out, my heart was torn, in shreds!... Then all of a sudden, to the sick soul, like in a dream, a vision of frightening phantoms rose! The guards and the torture! My mother, deathly pale... barefoot, half naked!...the cry, the well-known cry echoes.... "Revenge!"...I stretch my trembling hand...I hold the victim... I reached for it, push it into the fire... the delirium is over...the dreadful scene vanishes... only the flame burning, and its victim is no more! I then turn my eyes and I see just in front of me the son of the wicked Count... My son, my own son I had killed! I still feel my hair raising at the thought of it!
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