Singer Spotlight: Claudia Muzio
Let me share some of my favorite singers from the golden age of opera. Today’s entry is none other than Claudia Muzio, whom people called “The Duse of Song”.
(Historical note: Eleanora Duse was an Italian actress, regarded as one of the greatest actresses of all time, famous for her ability to completely inhabit the roles she was portraying.)
Claudia Muzio is simply spellbinding to listen to because she is always one hundred percent committed to her interpretation- her singing is electric, but always touched with a melancholic quality that part of the natural character of her voice.
Despite the limitations of early recording technology, the voice that comes through is a gorgeous instrument, generously rounded and rich. Muzio is a wonderful example of what some people call the “lacrime nella voce” or tears in the voice, that quality that some voices possess that makes them seem as if they are but a moment away from dissolving into a heartbroken sob. It is a haunting quality that, due to the primal quality of singing, instantly resonates in the listener.
A soprano who enjoyed a vast international career, Muzio was especially beloved by the audiences at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. She performed at the theater in 23 different operas, becoming known as “la divina Claudia”. Despite her growing fame and wealth, Muzio remained down-to-earth, occasionally even reclusive.
Muzio suffered a great deal of grief in her life, including being financially defrauded by her agent (and reported lover). On may 24th, 1963, Muzio died in Rome of what was officially described as heart failure, literally of a broken heart. She was 47.
There is only one semi-complete recording of Muzio live in an opera: In 1932, Muzio appeared in the opening production of Tosca at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House next to Dino Borgioli as Mario Cavaradossi; the opening night was recorded for radio, and only act 1 has been issued on CD.
Although difficult to obtain, and the sound quality is what one could expect from a live recording of the era, it shows Muzio at the height of her powers and completely stunning, with Dino Borgioli demonstrating why he earned a reputation for elegant musicianship and phrasing throughout his career.
Header image by User Tagishsimon on en.wikipedia – from http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/15446 – en:Project Gutenberg eText 15446, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1278380