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.