Toti Dal Monte was one of the great sopranos of the nineteen twenties and thirties.

Miss Dal Monte, whose real name was Antonietta Meneghelli, sang at the Metropolitan Opera in 1924–25, first appearing as Lucia di Lammermoor, and with the Chicago Opera from 1925 to 1928. She did not appear at the Met very often, but did perform at the Chicago Lyric for many years.

Dal Monte was a lyric coloratura, which means that she had a hefty voice and could also sing ornamental passages easily. Today, I think that her voices would be considered to be too bright. That is because of a change in aesthetics from something like dal Monte to a darker, more swallowed sound. I, for one, prefer the brighter sound. It is more true to life.

Because of the way that this video was uploaded to youtube, I have to give you the link from within a text box.

Regnava nel silencio

Donizetti, Lucia, Regnava nel silenzio

LUCIA
Regnava nel silenzio
alta la notte e bruna…
Colpìa la fonte un pallido
raggio di tetra luna…
Quando un sommesso gemito
fra l’aure udir si fe’;
ed ecco au quel margin
ah! l’ombra mostrarsi a me. Ah!
Qual di chi parla,muoversi
il labbro suo vedea,
e con la mano esanime
chiamarmi a sè parea.
Stette un momento immobile,
poi rattab dileguò.
E l’onda, pria sì limpida,
di sangue rosseggiò.

Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor, Act I, sc. II, “reigned in the silence”

LUCIA
The night, deep and dark,
reigned in the silence…
A pale ray from the gloomy moon
struck the fountain…
When a suppressed groan
made itself heard throughout the air;
and there on the fountain’s edge
the shadow showed itself to me Ah!
Her lips moved
as if speaking,
and with her lifeless hand
she seemed to call me.
She stood there, motionless,
then she suddenly disappeared.
And the water, earlier so limpid,
reddened with blood.

Rossini, Il barbiere di siviglia, Act I, “Una voce poco fa”

Una voce poco fa
qui nel cor mi risuonò;
il mio cor ferito è già,
e Lindor fu che il piagò.

Sì, Lindoro mio sarà;
lo giurai, la vincerò. (bis)

Il tutor ricuserà,
io l’ingegno aguzzerò.
Alla fin s’accheterà
e contenta io resterò.

Sì, Lindoro mio sarà;
lo giurai, la vincerò.
Sì, Lindoro mio sarà;
lo giurai, sì.

~ ~ ~

Io sono docile, son rispettosa,
sono obbediente, dolce, amorosa;
mi lascio reggere, mi lascio reggere,
mi fo guidar, mi fo guidar.

Ma,
ma se mi toccano
dov’è il mio debole
sarò una vipera, sarò
e cento trappole
prima di cedere
farò giocar, giocar.

E cento trappole
prima di cedere
farò giocar, farò giocar. (bis)

(Si ripete da: Io sono docile…)

Rossini, The barber of Seville, Act I “A voice a little while ago”

A voice a while back
echoes here in my heart;
already my heart has been pierced
and Lindoro inflicted the wound.

Yes, Lindoro will be mine;
I swear it, I shall win. (bis)

My guardian will refuse me;
I shall sharpen all my wits.
In the end, it will be fine
and I shall rest content…

Yes, Lindoro will be mine;
I swear it, I shall win.
Yes, Lindoro will be mine;
I swear it, yes.

~ ~ ~

I am docile, I’m respectful,
I’m obedient, gentle, loving;
I let myself be ruled, I let myself be ruled,
I let myself be guided, I let myself be guided.

But,
but if they touch me
on my weak spot,
I’ll be a viper
and a hundred tricks
I’ll play before I yield.

And a hundred tricks
I’ll play before I yield.

(Repeat from: I am docile…)

Mozart, Le nozze di figaro, Act 4, “Deh, vieni tardar”

Deh, vieni, non tardar, oh gioia bella,
vieni ove amore per goder t’appella,
finché non splende in ciel notturna face,
finché l’aria è ancor bruna e il mondo tace.
Qui mormora il ruscel, qui scherza l’aura,
che col dolce sussurro il cor ristaura,
qui ridono i fioretti e l’erba è fresca,
ai piaceri d’amor qui tutto adesca.
Vieni, ben mio, tra queste piante ascose,
ti vo’ la fronte incoronar di rose.

Mozart, Marriage of Figaro, Act 4, “Come, do not delay”

Come, do not delay, oh bliss,
Come where love calls thee to joy,
While night’s torch does not shine in the sky,
While the air is still dark and the world quiet.
Here murmurs the stream, here sports the breeze,
Which refreshes the heart with its sweet whispers.
Here flowers smile and the grass is cool;
Here everything invites to the pleasures of love.
Come, my dearest, and amid these sheltered trees
I will wreathe thy brow with roses.

Toti dal Monte
June 27, 1893 – January 26, 1975

Italian coloratura soprano. Born Antonietta Meneghel; studied with Barbara Marchesio; married Enzo de Muro Lomanto (a singer); children: one daughter.

Debuted at La Scala (1921), at the Metropolitan Opera (1924), and at Covent Garden (1926); retired (1949).

After studying for five years with Barbara Marchesio , Antonietta Meneghel made her debut in Francesca di Rimini in the Teatro alla Scala, on February 22, 1916. She made ten lire a day. During rehearsals, when conductor Gino Marinuzzi had suggested that she change her name, she chose her nickname, Toti, and her grandmother’s maiden name, Dal Monte. Following her debut, Toti Dal Monte sang Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly at the Teatro Lirico of Milan on September 14, 1918. Dal Monte’s first foreign engagements were in South America where she sang in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.

Arturo Toscanini engaged her to sing Lucia at La Scala in 1921 and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in June 1922. Toscanini then asked her to sing in the cast, and his endorsement won Dal Monte a permanent place at La Scala. She became well known in the world’s major opera houses. In 1924, she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Lucia and in 1926 at Covent Garden as Lucia and Rosina. That same year, she was engaged for a four-month tour of Australia and New Zealand with the renowned Australian singer Nellie Melba . Off and on, between 1924 and 1928, Dal Monte criss-crossed the United States from coast to coast. In 1931, a five-month tour took her from Moscow to Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, and five cities in Japan.

Dal Monte’s coloratura soprano was light, clear, and brilliant but with more weight than most. Her voice had great purity, and she could float a note and a focused tone at any dynamic level. Wide ranging, her voice allowed Dal Monte to shade it according to the role. She was able to darken her voice enough to sing as a light mezzo. In addition to a beautiful voice, Dal Monte was known as an accomplished actress whose roles were credible and appealing. She made several recordings for RCA Victor and His Master’s Voice, which remain collectors’ items.

Dal Monte suffered from high blood pressure, which ultimately caused her to retire from singing in 1949, but she continued to act. In January 1975, she was hospitalized for circulatory problems and died at Pieve di Soligo on January 26.