Marietta Alboni (March 6, 1826 – June 23, 1894) was a renowned Italian contralto opera singer. Together with the charismatic Maria Malibran, she was considered the greatest deeper-voiced female singer of the nineteenth century.
Albani was born at Città di Castello, in Umbria. She became a pupil of Antonio Bagioli of Cesena, Emilia–Romagna, and later of the composer Gioachino Rossini.
At the young age of 15, she made her operatic début the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, as Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia, and her success led to an engagement at La Scala, Milan. In 1846/47, she sang in all the principal cities of Europe. While in London, she appeared at the Covent Garden, in rivalry with the soprano Jenny Lind, who was starring at Her Majesty's Theatre. She toured the United States in 1852/53, appearing there with Camilla Urso.
In 1868, she sang a duet with Adelina Patti, the leading soprano of the era, at Rossini's Paris funeral.
Alboni's voice, an exceptionally fine contralto with a seamless compass of two and one-half octaves—extending as high as the mezzo-soprano range—was said to possess at once power, sweetness, fullness, and extraordinary flexibility. In passages requiring a sensitive delivery and semi-religious calmness she had no peers, owing to the emotionally moving quality of her velvety tone. She possessed vivacity, grace, and charm as an actress of the comédienne type; but she was not a natural tragédienne, and her attempt at the strongly dramatic part of Norma turned out to be an histrionic failure.
She wed a nobleman, Count Carlo Pepoli, of the Papal States, but kept her maiden name for the stage, performing in opera at Munich as late as 1872. Her husband had died in 1866, and in 1877 she remarried—to a French military officer named Charles Zieger. Alboni grew extremely stout as she aged. She died at Ville-d'Avray, near Paris, and was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
- F. M. Colby and T. Williams (Eds.) (1917–1926), New International Encyclopedia (2nd Edition). Dodd, Mead & Co., The University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts.
- G. T. Ferris, Great Singers (New York, 1893)
- A. Pougin, Marietta Alboni (Paris, 1912)
- Arthur Pougin, Marietta Alboni (Cesena, 2001) (traduzione di Michele Massarelli con aggiunte di Lelio Burgini al testo originale)
- Henry Fothergill Chorley (1862), Thirty Years' Musical Recollections. Hurst & Blackett, London, Volume II, The Year 1847, 8-13.
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