The marvellous Italian soprano died today at her home in Modena. She was 84.
A close ally of Luciano Pavarotti, they were raised by the same nurse as their mothers worked at the tobacco factory in Modena. Fregni (she soon dropped the ‘g’) made her debut at 19 in Modena, as Micaela in Carmen. She married her voice teacher, the conductor Leone Magiera, and made her international breakthrough in 1960 at Glyndebourne, where she sang Adina in Franco Zeffirelli’s staging of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. Within a couple of years, she was Herbert von Karajan’s favourite Italian soprano and Pavarotti’s frequent partner. After her divorce from Magiera, she married the bass Nicolai Ghiaurov in 1978.
She sang for 40 years at the Met, one of its all-time favourites. The director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle said of Freni that she was ‘a real, concrete woman with great poesia. Everything she does is absolutely real.’
Interview with Bruce Duffie here.