Licia ALBANESE Biography

Italian soprano. Born July 22, 1913, in Bari, Italy; m. Joseph Gimma (Italian-American businessman), 1945; studied with Emanuel De Rosa in Bari and Giuseppina Baldassare-Tedeschi in Milan.

At 22, won 1st Italian government-sponsored vocal competition in a field of 300 entrants; in 1st five years of career, sang at Teatro alla Scala, Covent Garden, and the Rome Opera; when Benito Mussolini would no longer let distinguished Italian artists leave the country, escaped to Portugal (1939) and boarded ship bound for US; debuted at Metropolitan Opera (Feb 9, 1940) as Cio-Cio-San; was perhaps the most famous La Boheme Mimi of the 1940s; made final Metropolitan Opera performance (1966); received the Lady Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre from Pope Pius XII; after retirement, worked for Puccini Foundation, founded by husband, to further survival of opera as art form; awarded President’s Medal by Bill Clinton for work in the arts (1995).