Who is Tiziana Fabbricini?

Tiziana Fabbricini(Photo: SONY)
Tiziana Fabbricini(Photo: SONY)

Join me for Verdi’s La traviata-Saturday at 1.30 on Classical 101. Tiziana Fabbricini and Roberto Alagna sing and Riccardo Muti conducts.

You can look up Maria Callas in any encyclopedia and get pages and pages. You can look up Joan Sutherland,  Beverly Sills, Renee Fleming. You can look up Dame Nellie Melba, who died eighty years ago. Whole books have been written on all of these ladies. Go look up Tiziana Fabbricini. You won’t find much.

Like her predecessors, Fabbricini was a noted Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata. This is the “Hamlet”" for sopranos. Sarah Bernhardt and Greta Garbo played her in the movies. Violetta is a courtesan (a polite word) in 19th century Paris who falls in love with a nice boy from the country. His daddy breaks it off. Violetta agrees to dump the boy and go back to the old life, and it literally kills her to do so.

Tiziana Fabbricini is an Italian soprano who was championed by Riccardo Muti at La Scala. In 1992, she starred in his production of La traviata. This was filmed and recorded for Sony Classical.

Most new recordings of La traviata are greeted with a yawn. This one upset many people.

She’s a striking woman with an imperfect voice. There are holes there, and the registers are not well aligned. She will miss a few notes. She has dark hair, she sings Traviata in Milan and her voice in an acquired taste. “She’s copying Callas!”   was the hue and cry.

Get over it. Callas is gone. Fabbricini sings with more guts than anyone I’ve encountered in this opera. I saw Dame Joan, Sills, Diana Soviero, Fleming, Anna Moffo-all were wonderful but bland next to this lady. Fabbricini’s career in the U.S. never happened. Six performances in New York in the mid-90s attracted little attention. Her Lucia in Houston has people walking out. I would have stayed.

Fabbricini had a flourishing career in Europe and still appears, often in Poulenc’s one-charcter La voix humaine. She did the voice killers, Tosca, Attila, Lady Macbeth. I don’t know how she sounds today. I suspect, with her drive, she could give a riveting performance with three notes.

The only way she can be compared to Callas is her gift for making you listen. She uses her voice to tell you the truth. Great voices are always applauded and loved, as they should be. Great artists have a tougher time.