Mirella Freni, 1935–2020

Last year, the Met family mourned the death of Mirella Freni, one of the greatest sopranos of the post–World War II era. Her extraordinarily beautiful voice and intense, Italianate interpretations captivated Met audiences from her debut in 1965—the last season at the old opera house—to a gala celebrating her 40th year with the company in 2005. Her most frequent of the 13 roles she sang at the Met were Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème (her debut role) and Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Freni’s artistry was impeccable, particularly notable for her technical mastery and vocal beauty. Her extraordinary legacy with the Met lives on in numerous radio and TV transmissions, including a 1997 telecast of Giordano’s Fedora, which streams this week. She was admired and beloved by her fellow artists and company members for her warmth and down-to-earth persona.

The February 2020 Live in HD transmission of Handel’s Agrippina was dedicated to Freni’s memory, and during intermission, host Deborah Voigt paid tribute to the late soprano.

Take a look back at Freni’s remarkable Met career.


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As Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème, the role of her 1965 company debut


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With Met General Manager Rudolf Bing in her dressing room at a performance of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, 1965


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Backstage with Julie Andrews, Franco Corelli, and Birgit Nilsson after a performance as Liù in Puccini’s Turandot, 1966


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As Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, with Franco Corelli, 1967


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As Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, with Cesare Siepi, 1967


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As Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen, with Jon Vickers, 1968


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As Elisabetta in Verdi’s Don Carlo, with her husband, Nicolai Ghiaurov, 1983


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In the title role of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, 1984


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As Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, 1989


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As Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust as part of a 1991 gala celebrating her 25th anniversary with the company


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As Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, with Paul Plishka, 1992

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In the title role of Giordano’s Fedora, 1996