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Dusolina Giannini, Soprano

By August 12, 2020April 5th, 2023No Comments

Giannini was a spinto (that is, pushed, in Italian) soprano whose sound is not really evident today, especially in the works of Verdi and Puccini.

Giannini’s singing is from another time. It should be savored. Additionally, she was a well known singer of German lieder. I have included two of them here.

I hate to say it, but this kind of singing has become all but extinct. It is a real pity.

Presso la grotta di Leonora. Valle tra rupi inaccessibili, attraversata da un ruscello. Nel fondo a sinistra dello spettatore è una grotta con porta praticabile, e sopra una campana che si potrà suonare dall’interno. La scena si oscura lentamente; la luna apparisce splendidissima. Donna Leonora, pallida, sfigurata, esce dalla grotta, agitatissima.

Pace, pace, mio Dio!
Cruda sventura
M’astringe, ahimé, a languir;
Come il dì primo
Da tant’anni dura
Profondo il mio soffrir.
L’amai, gli è ver!
Ma di beltà e valore
Cotanto Iddio l’ornò.
Che l’amo ancor.
Né togliermi dal core
L’immagin sua saprò.
Fatalità! Fatalità! Fatalità!
Un delitto disgiunti n’ha quaggiù!
Alvaro, io t’amo.
E su nel cielo è scritto:
Non ti vedrò mai più!
Oh Dio, Dio, fa ch’io muoia;
Che la calma può darmi morte sol.
Invan la pace qui sperò quest’alma
In preda a tanto duol.
Va ad un sasso ove sono alcune provvigioni deposte dal Padre Guardiano
Misero pane, a prolungarmi vieni
La sconsolata vita … Ma chi giunge?
Chi profanare ardisce il sacro loco?
Maledizione! Maledizione! Maledizione!

Torna rapidamente alla grotta, e vi si rinchiude.

A valley amid precipitous rocks, traversed by a stream. In the background, to the spectator’s left, is a cave with a practicable door, above which is a bell that can be rung from within. The sun is going down. The scene darkens slowly; the moon appears, extremely bright.

Donna Leonora, pale and worn, emerges from the cave in a state of great agitation.

Peace, peace, O God!

Cruel misfortune
compels me, alas, to languish;
my suffering has lasted for so many years,
as profound as on the first day.
Peace, peace, O God!
I loved him, it is true! But God had blessed him
with such beauty and courage
that I love him still, and cannot efface his image
from my heart.
Fatal destiny! A crime
has divided us down here!
Alvaro, I love you and in heaven above it is written
that I shall never see you again!
O God, God, let me die, for only death
can bring me peace.
In vain this soul of mine here sought peace,
a prey to so much woe.
She goes to a rock on which the Father Superior has left food for her.
Wretched bread, you come to prolong
my inconsolable life. – But who comes here,
daring to profane this sacred retreat?
A curse! A curse!

She retreats rapidly into the cave, closing it behind her.

Compare with Netrebko. Is she singing the right notes? Is she in tune?

Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!…
Con man furtiva
quante miserie conobbi, aiutai…
Sempre con fe’ sincera,
la mia preghiera
ai santi tabernacoli salì.
Sempre con fe’ sincera
diedi fiori agli altar.
Nell’ora del dolore
perché, perché Signore,
perché me ne rimuneri così?
Diedi gioielli
della Madonna al manto,
e diedi il canto
agli astri, al ciel, che ne ridean più belli.
Nell’ora del dolore,
perché, perché Signore,
perché me ne rimuneri così?


I lived for art. I lived for love:
Never did I harm a living creature! …
Whatever misfortunes I encountered
I sought with secret hand to succor …
Ever in pure faith,
My prayers rose
In the holy chapels.
Ever in pure faith,
I brought flowers to the altars.
In this hour of pain, why,
Why, oh Lord, why
Dost Thou repay me thus?
Jewels I brought
For the Madonna’s mantle,
And songs for the stars in heaven
That they shone forth with greater radiance.
In this hour of distress, why,
Why, oh Lord,
Why dost Thou repay me thus?

kneeling before Scarpia

Hermann von Gilm

Ja, du weißt es, teure Seele,
Daß ich fern von dir mich quäle, Liebe macht die Herzen krank,
Habe Dank.
Einst hielt ich, der Freiheit Zecher,
Hoch den Amethysten-Becher,
Und du segnetest den Trank,
Habe Dank.
Und beschworst darin die Bösen,
Bis ich, was ich nie gewesen,
Heilig, heilig an’s Herz dir sank,
Habe Dank!


Yes, dear soul, you know
That I’m in torment far from you,
Love makes hearts sick –
I thank you.
Once, revelling in freedom,
I held The amethyst cup aloft
And you blessed that draught –
I thank you.
And you banished the devils,
Until I, what I never had been,
Holy, sank holy upon your heart –
I thank you.

Hermann von Gilm

Stell auf den Tisch die duftenden Reseden,
Die letzten roten Astern trag herbei,
Und laß uns wieder von der Liebe reden,
Wie einst im Mai.
Gib mir die Hand, daß ich sie heimlich drücke,
Und wenn man’s sieht, mir ist es einerlei,
Gib mir nur einen deiner süßen Blicke,
Wie einst im Mai.
Es blüht und duftet heut auf jedem Grabe,
Ein Tag im Jahr ist ja den Toten frei,
Komm am mein Herz, daß ich dich wieder habe,
Wie einst im Mai.

All Souls’ Day

Set on the table the fragrant dyer’s weeds,
Carry in the last of the red asters,
And let us talk of love again
As once in May.
Give me your hands so that I can press them secretly,
And if people see, it is no matter,
Give me but one of your sweet glances
As once in May.
Each grave today has flowers and is fragrant,
One day each year the dead are free;
Come to my heart and so be mine again,
As once in May.

Dusolina Giannini

American-Italian soprano, December 19, 1902 – June 29, 1986

Giannini was born in Philadelphia to Italian parents and studied with her father, Ferruccio Giannini, who was a tenor and ran his own opera company. Her mother Antonietta Briglia-Giannini was an excellent violinist. She continued her studies with Marcella Sembrich, the very famous Polish soprano. She substituted for the indisposed Anna Case at a concert in Carnegie Hall, had a triumphant success. In 1924 she started recording for the Victor company. The same year she was very successful in London. In 1925 she made her debut as Aida at the Hamburg State Opera. She appeared there until 1930. In 1928 she sang a number of highly successful performances at Covent Garden. She was invited to sing Aida in a complete opera recording (her partners were Pertile, Minghini-Cattaneo and Inghilleri under Sabajno). This recording enjoyed almost legendary fame and familiarized her name throughout the world.

In 1936, she made her Met debut as Aida and remained a member of the Met ensemble until 1941. She continued to sing in Europe. After 1962 she was director of the Opera Studio in Zurich.

Giannini made her American debut at the Metropolitan Opera in a February 12, 1936, in a performance of Aida. She remained at the Metropolitan until 1941.