(25 March 1910 – 8 September 2014)
The enormous appreciation and respect we feel for Mrs. Magda Olivero, which lead us to appoint her member ad honorem of the Renata Tebaldi Foundation of San Marino, are not sufficient to illustrate the merits of this Dama, who, through her active presence, gave maximum prestige to the first edition of the worldwide renowned International Voice Competition named after Renata Tebaldi. Mrs. Olivero’s incredible vocal longevity and, above all, her loyalty as a woman and a colleague were fully praised by Renata Tebaldi and when the first stops in their careers as busy primedonne allowed them to do so, they gave a special human depth to a friendship having the rare gift of sincerity in a world where frills and superficiality often win over true feelings. And such relationship can be represented by the formula expressing everlasting absolute loyalty: “Til death do us part”. It is also and above all for this reason that we are proud to number Magda OLIVERO among us as principal and distinguished member of our Foundation.
She studied piano and composition at the Turin Academy of music and joined the E.IA.R. school for singers under Gerussi and Luigi Ricci. She made her radio debut in 1932 in Turin and, in 1933, on the stage, at the V. Emanuele Theatre as Lauretta in “Gianni Schicchi”, subsequently at the La Scala Theatre of Milan (Anna in Verdi’s “Nabucco”). Since 1941, she has performed in all the major Italian theatres (San Carlo Theatre in Naples, Verdi Theatre in Trieste) as Adriana Lecouvrer, Liù in “Turandot”, Suor Angelica, Violetta in “La Traviata” and Minni in “La Fanciulla del West”.
In 1942, shortly after her marriage, she interrupted her career for 10 years. She returned to the theatre in 1951, prompted by Cilea, who considered her irreplaceable in the role of Adriana. From then on, she never looked back for 32 years, until the eve of her 50th year on the stage, during which time she starred in all major theatres playing in numerous roles, including première works like Renzo Rossellini’s “La Guerra” and Flavio Testi’s “La Celestina”. In 1975, she played a wonderful Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera of New York. Her vast discography includes Liù from Puccini’s “Turandot” (for Cetra), Giuliano’s Fedora, Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, Mascagni’s Iris, Cherubini’s Medea, and “La Fanciulla del West”, “Il Tabarro” and “Madama Butterfly” by Puccini, as well as the “Ressurrezioni” by Alfano for Decca. In 1993, at the age of 83, she recorded for Bongiovanni a Recital of Operas Arias, with a voice still in splendid condition.
Olivero’s career is a special case: her female discretion has always contrasted with her fame as an artist unanimously considered to be among the greatest opera singers of our century. Magda Olivero was a very sincere and intimate personal friend of Renata Tebaldi, a friendship as deep as rare between two divas.