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Classical 101

"Introducing" Anita Cerquetti


ADAM -  HAS AUDIO [caption id="attachment_1805" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Anita Cerquetti"][/caption] Italian soprano Anita Cerquetti (b. 1931) had a nine year career that ended in 1960. Why her career was so short has been argued about ever since. There seems no definitive answer, and the lady herself, alive, well and gregarious in Rome, isn't saying. The point is that by the time she was thirty she had retired from the stage. What a loss! Listen to this large, warm Italianate voice. She has all the flexibility needed for Norma and the other bel canto operas. Verdi was her calling card-- Aida, La forza del destino, Un ballo in maschera, Ernani, Don Carlo. Cerquetti's most notorious performances, through no fault of hers, took place in Rome in January, 1958. Callas abandoned a performance of Norma after the first act, walking out on Charles de Gaulle and the President of Italy. (There's a tape of the performance. Callas was ill and should have stayed in bed.) There was a scandal; Callas's career never recovered. Cerquetti was brought in to do the rest of the run. HER performances were also broadcast and exist in sound today, and they are sensational. I'm not sure what it meant to Cerquetti in the end, since by 1960 she was done. Cerquetti made only two commercial recordings: La Gioconda and an aria recital, long out of print. Fortunately, many of her great performances are available to us today on archival broadcasts. There's lots of Cerquetti over on YouTube, including some pithy interviews from recent years. If you want impeccable legato, drama, warmth and beauty of tone, then listen to this. It's her most famous recording, the aria "O re dei cieli" from -get ready- Agnese di Hohenstaufen by Gaspare Spontini (I'm not making up this title. Spontini was a close contemporary of Beethoven's who made his career in France). I've fallen in love with this voice. Enjoy Anita Cerquetti! Brava! [audio:anita_cerquetti.mp3] --Christopher Purdy