Have you ever heard of Catarina Mancini (10 November 1924 – 21 January 2011)? This soprano, born at Genzano di Roma had the true ’voce Verdiana’: she combined a beautiful height and pure coloratura with a drama that even La Divina might have envied her for.
Never heard of her? Then it’s time to make up for the damage, because I promise you a voice out of thousands. And this is exactly how her Leonora sounds in the recording from 1951 Rome (Warner Fonit 2564661890). Extraordinary.
Her Manrico was sung by the very heroic sounding (then already nearly 60 years old) Giacomo Lauri-Volpi and a very charismatic Carlo Tagliabue sang the role of di Luna. Miriam Pirazzini (Azucena) completed the cast and the whole was very impressively conducted by Fernando Previtali.
Here are Mancini, Lauri-Volpi and Tagliabue in the trio of the first act:
Highlights on Spotify:
Mancini sings “Santo di patria… Da te questo m’è concesso” from Attila by Verdi:
Mancini made her debut in 1948 in Florence, as Giselda in I Lombardi. In 1950, she appeared in Bologna and Venice, in Norma and made her at La Scala in Milan, in Lucrezia Borgia, in 1951. Donizetti, Rossini and Bellini are not lacking in her repertoire.
The Italian label Cetra has recorded a lot with her; difficult to obtain, but so very worthwhile to look for! At her best I find her as Lida in La Battaglia di Legnano by Verdi. Below a fragment of it:
Andrea Chenier with Caterina Mancini, recorded live in Dublin 1957:
Mancini’s career lasted only a short time. People talked about health problems, but what really happened? The fact is that the soprano, born in 1924, stopped working as early as 1960. Although her name can still be found in 1963, as contralto (!) at the concert in memory of Kennedy.