Mirella Freni, 1935–2020
Earlier this 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 1992 telecast of Verdi’s Falstaff, 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.
As Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème, the role of her 1965 company debut
With Met General Manager Rudolf Bing in her dressing room at a performance of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, 1965
Backstage with Julie Andrews, Franco Corelli, and Birgit Nilsson after a performance as Liù in Puccini’s Turandot, 1966
As Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, with Franco Corelli, 1967
As Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, with Cesare Siepi, 1967
As Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen, with Jon Vickers, 1968
As Elisabetta in Verdi’s Don Carlo, with her husband, Nicolai Ghiaurov, 1983
In the title role of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, 1984
As Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, 1989
As Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust as part of a 1991 gala celebrating her 25th anniversary with the company
As Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, with Paul Plishka, 1992