Adelina Patti

Adelina Patti

Madrid, Provincia de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Death 27 Sep 1919 (aged 76)
Brecon, Powys, Wales
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Plot Division 4
Memorial ID 7428463 · View Source
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Opera Singer. A coloratura soprano of small stature and gigantic ego, she was the world's preeminent operatic performer throughout the last half of the 19th Century. Born Adelia Juana Maria Patti to touring operatic parents, she was raised in New York City from early childhood and evidenced her talent at a young age. Probably trained by brother-in-law Maurice Strakosch, though she later claimed to have been self-taught, she gave her first recital at around eight and made her operatic debut at New York's Academy of Music on November 24, 1859 as the title heroine of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor". She joined a 12 year old Emma Albani for the world premiere of Charles Wugk Sabatier's "Cantata" on August 24, 1860 and on May 14, 1861 made her Covent Garden, London, bow as Amina from Vincenzo Bellini's "La Sonnambula". From the moment of her debut she was prima donna assoluta, her success such that she soon took Amina to Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, and and other major venues and indeed she was to build her entire career around such 'bel canto' fare as Lucia, Amina, and Rosina from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville". Patti sang at the White House in 1862 and so moved Lincoln and his wife with her rendition of "Home, Sweet Home" that she was ever after to use the number as an encore piece in her recitals. In the late 1860s she took the lead in a Covent Garden production of Verdi's "Giovanna d'Arco", and while even the great Patti could not turn one of Verdi's few sow's ears into a silk purse it is interesting to note that her Joan of Arc costume is the only one of her stage outfits that has been preserved. She typically made her roles her "own", adding ornamentations in a manner standard for top drawer singers of her time, though the great composer Rossini is said to have been less than impressed with her reading of "Una voce poco fa", even going so far as to call it "Strakoschonnerie", a play on the arranger's name and the Italian word for 'pig slop'. In addition to the bel canto roles, Patti earned praise as Gilda from Verdi's "Rigoletto", Violetta in the same composer's "La Traviata", the title lead of Rossini's "Semiramide", Juliette in Charles Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette", and Zerlina from Mozart's "Don Giovanni". As her voice became more mature she was to take on some heavier fare including Bellini's Druid Priestess "Norma" and two of Verdi's more difficult roles, Leonore from "Il Trovatore" and the title heroine of "Aida". She first sang at La Scala Milano in 1877 as Violetta and in 1885 had one of her few professional failures when she took on the part of Georges Bizet's 'cigarette girl' "Carmen", a role too heavy for her voice, at Covent Garden. Essentially the definition of "prima donna", Patti was a greedy, rapacious, and unpleasant lady who demanded and received high fees of up to $5,000 which was always paid in cash, insisted upon excusal from rehearsals, and even trained a parrot to squawk "Cash!, Cash!". Her private life was colorful and carried its share of drama; said to have had numerous sexual escapades including an affair with the tenor Mario, she married Henri de Roger de Cahusac, Marquess de Caux (1826-1889) in 1868. The union quickly broke down with mutual accusations of infidelity and ended up costing Patti a considerable sum of money before the divorce was final in 1885. Her second marriage in 1886 to her frequent stage partner tenor Ernesto Nicolini (1834-1898) which endured until her husband's death was either happier, or else the indiscretions were kept quiet. Patti's third and final union to Baron Rolf Cederstrom (1870-1947) was her most fulfilling and lasted from 1899 until her death. She lived her final years at her castle in south Wales singing rarely and only in repertoire that she knew her aging voice could handle. She made around 30 recordings for the Gramophone & Typewriter Company in 1905 and 1906, preserving much of her familiar music; though her voice was well past its prime and despite the high price of $5, the discs were best-sellers and have been in print ever since, valued as documentation of a bygone style. Having been last been heard at Covent Garden in 1895, she toured America in 1903-1904, giving the leadoff concert at Carnegie Hall, but by then the glory of her voice had departed and the venture flopped. Patti sang her final recital for a World War I benefit at the Royal Albert Hall in October 1914 and died of natural causes. As requested in her will, she was buried near Rossini.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Joop Van Dijk
  • Added: 9 May 2003
  • Find a Grave Memorial 7428463
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Adelina Patti (19 Feb 1843–27 Sep 1919), Find a Grave Memorial no. 7428463, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .