Europe

Italian diva and soprano Magda Olivero dies at 104

Italian soprano Magda Olivero (undated photograph) Image copyright AP
Image caption Magda Olivero was revered by her fans who were described as "Magdamaniacs" by the New York Times in 1979

One of the great Italian divas, the soprano Magda Olivero, has died at the age of 104 in Milan after a career spanning more than 70 years.

She died on Monday in hospital after suffering a stroke last month, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Magda Olivero made her debut in the 1930s but stopped performing after getting married in 1941.

She was coaxed back on to the stage 10 years later and enjoyed renewed stardom in Europe and the US.

She was still performing in public at the age of 99.

La Scala opera house in Milan - where she made her earliest performances - asked the public to hold a moment of silence before a performance on Monday.

The opera house described her voice as charismatic, her acting as formidable and her intelligence as "ready and cutting until the end".

Italian daily La Repubblica said even in March 2010 when she performed at the Palazzo Cusani in Milan her voice was still "grandiose".

The New York Times described Olivero as a soprano who "for decades whipped audiences around the world into a frenzy of adulation that was operatic even by operatic standards - despite the fact that by her own ready admission she did not possess an especially lovely voice".

It said that over the years bootleg recordings of her voice "passed from hand to covert hand among her legions of acolytes".

"At live performances, she took the stage to screams of ecstasy and left it to thundering ovations," the paper said.

Her signature roles included title parts in Puccini's Tosca, Umberto Giordano's Fedora and Luigi Cherubini's Medea.

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