GABRIELLA TUCCI Rome, Italy, August 4, 1929 — June 11, 2020
A STRIKING, AUTHORITATIVE INTERPRETER of the heroines of Verdi and Puccini, Gabriella Tucci made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1960, as Cio-Cio-San. Tucci remained on the Met roster for thirteen consecutive seasons, singing 259 performances with the company in New York and on tour. The most frequent of the soprano’s twenty roles for the Met were Aida, Leonora in Il Trovatore, Marguerite in Faust, Alice Ford, Violetta, Desdemona, Tosca, Cio-Cio-San, Mimì and Gluck’s Eurydice. Tucci sang leading roles in four new Met productions—Otello (1963), conducted by Georg Solti and directed by Herbert Graf; Falstaff (1964), conducted by Leonard Bernstein and directed by Franco Zeffirelli; Faust (1965), conducted by Georges Prêtre and directed by Jean-Louis Barrault; and Orfeo ed Euridice (1970), conducted by Richard Bonynge and directed and choreographed by Milko Sparemblek. On the afternoon of Saturday, April 16, 1966, Tucci sang Mimì in the Bohème that was the last live radio broadcast from the Met’s home at Broadway and 39th Street. That evening, at the gala to mark the company’s farewell to the Old Met, the last number on the program was the final trio from Faust, sung by Tucci, Nicolai Gedda and Jerome Hines. Tucci’s last Met performance was as Marguerite in 1972.
Tucci made her professional debut in 1951, as Leonora to Beniamino Gigli’s Don Alvaro in a Spoleto performance of La Forza del Destino. Another notable early engagement for Tucci was Glauce to Maria Callas’s Medea in Florence (1953) and Venice (1954). Tucci’s La Scala debut was as Mimì in La Bohème in 1959. The following year, Tucci bowed at Covent Garden, as Aida. Tucci also appeared at Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Teatro Colón, among other theaters.
Tucci made her first U.S. opera appearance at San Francisco Opera, as Maddalena di Coigny in Andrea Chénier in 1959. The soprano recorded only two opera roles in the studio—Nedda in Pagliacci (Decca, 1958) and Leonora in Il Trovatore (EMI, 1964)—but a number of live performances have been released on CD and DVD, preserving Tucci’s firm, handsome timbre, spacious phrasing and beautiful top notes.