Anna Moffo was born in 1932 and died in New York at aged 73 in 2006. Moffo was an American soprano who was beloved for her rosy voice, dramatic vulnerability and exceptional beauty.
Though Ms. Moffo’s career began splendidly, her voice had declined by her late 30’s. With her radiant appearance, she was drawn early on into television and film, playing host of her own variety show on Italian television for many years.
Though Ms. Moffo’s voice was not large, it was warm and rich, with soft pastel colorings and a velvety lower range. Agile coloratura technique allowed her to sing high soprano bel canto repertory impressively, especially “Lucia di Lammermoor.” She was a thoroughly trained musician, having studied the piano and viola when she was a voice major on scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
As Susanna on the classic 1959 EMI recording of Mozart’s “Nozze di Figaro,” Ms. Moffo holds her own and then some in scenes with the intimidating soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, who sings the Countess. Her RCA recording of “La Traviata,” with Richard Tucker and Robert Merrill, is still prized for the subtlety and pathos she brings to her portrayal of Violetta
Anna Moffo was born in Wayne, Pa., to an Italian-American shoemaker and his wife on June 27, 1932. After graduation, Hollywood beckoned, but her parents, as Ms. Moffo told it, wanted her to be a nun. Instead, in 1954 she entered and won the Philadelphia Orchestra Young Artists Auditions. Awarded a Fulbright fellowship, she went to Rome to study voice, master the Italian language and train for opera.
Ms. Moffo made her stage opera debut in 1955 as Norina in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” in Spoleto. Her big breakthrough came the next year, when she starred in a television production of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” directed by Mario Lanfranchi, a producer for RCA Victor and RAI. She and Mr. Lanfranchi married in 1957. Sensing her star potential, he pushed her too hard. Recalling this period in a 1977 interview, Ms. Moffo lamented that she sang an average of 12 new roles a year for the first four years of her career, all star parts.
Her Met debut in 1959 was as Violetta in “La Traviata.
Ms. Moffo soon became a favorite at the Met, and remained so well into the 1960’s. She appeared some 200 times with the company, including her portrayal of Liù in the legendary production of Puccini’s “Turandot” in 1961 that starred Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli, available today on a limited edition live recording produced by the Met.
<p”>By the late 1960’s, her voice was often unreliable. This should be a cautionary tale to all who go to miracle “voice fixers”. This is what Moffo did at about this time, and it ruined her voice for the rest of her carrier.
This next part was unknown to me. I know of Beverly Johnson, and she was reputed to be one of the best voice teachers in the world. I know that she helped Tebaldi when she was having trouble.
In the late 1970’s, Ms. Moffo went to a respected voice teacher, Beverley Johnson, to get her singing back in shape. The work paid off somewhat: her career continued. But her best years were long behind her.