l'italiana Mirella Freni

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This Saturday at 12:30 pm, host Naomi Lewin chats with Italian soprano and opera darling Mirella Freni about her relationship to Luciano Pavarotti, her career onstage and in film, and her husband, the late Bulgarian bass Nicolai Ghiaurov.

Mirella Freni grew up alongside Luciano Pavarotti in Modena, Italy. They were even rumored to have had the same wet nurse at the daycare in the tobacco factory where their mothers worked. Like brother and sister, Pavarotti and Freni played together and trained together. In this episode, Freni discusses their friendship, parallel career paths, and how Freni convinced Pavarotti to pursue a vocal calling beyond singing in the local amateur chorus with his father. Freni also talks about how she fell for her husband Nicolai Ghiaurov— "the big basso."

Bonus Clip: Freni talks about her work with conductor Herbert von Karajan:

 

Playlist:

Giacomo Puccini Gianni Schicchi “O mio babbino caro”
Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan; Leone Magiera, conductor; Mirella Freni, soprano
EMI Classics 06253

Giacomo Puccini La Bohème “O soave fancìulla”
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Herbert von Karajan, conductor; Mirella Freni, soprano; Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
London/Decca 421049

Gaetano Donizetti La figlia del reggimento “A viva forza l'han condotto via”
La Scala Orchestra and Chorus; Nino Sanzogno, conductor
Mirella Freni, soprano; Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Opera D'oro 1147 | Live recording from 1969

Giacomo Puccini Madama Butterfly “Con onor muore”
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Herbert von Karajan, conductor; Mirella Freni, soprano
Deutsche Grammophon 000428209

Charles Gounod Faust “Alerte, alerte”
Paris National Opera Orchestra & Chorus; Georges Prêtre, conductor
Mirella Freni, soprano; Placido Domingo, tenor; Nicolai Ghiaurov, bass
EMI Classics 47493