© 2013 Adriaan Fuchs. All rights reserved.

Fiorenza Cossotto

“I could not believe where this voice came from…
She had this melting, big sound.”

– Renata Scotto, soprano

Great Interpreters:  Fiorenza Cossotto
Broadcast on Fine Music Radio on 22 November 2013.

Like her predecessors Ebe Stignani, Fedora Barbieri and Giulietta Simionato before her, Fiorenza Cossotto (born 1935) was considered one of the prime exponents of the heavy Italian mezzo-soprano roles of the middle 19th century. Cossotto’s tremendous instrument – one of the most powerful dramatic mezzo-soprano voices of the 20th century – was highly regarded for its impressive range, flexibility and for the consistency with which she managed to move through its different registers: from a blazing chest voice to an easy and nimble high register. According to Enzo Bordello, “Cossotto’s voice was ringing, rock-solid and massive. My eardrums vibrated for hours after one of her performances.” Hers was not merely a huge dramatic voice; rather, it was a sumptuous, well-schooled and fluid instrument capable of great agility.

Cossotto enjoyed a spectacular career of considerable duration. Between the seasons of 1967–68 and 1988–89 she gave altogether 148 performances of leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera. Her 1985 Amneris in the video of Leontyne Price’s farewell performance of Aida was as potent as it was at her debut, while Cossotto practically owned the part of Azucena in Il trovatore.

Cossotto will be remembered the annals of operatic history for the extraordinary power and unique timbre of her voice. Fortunately many of her “live” performances were recorded for prosperity and her recorded legacy encompasses a large catalogue of commercial recordings, augmented by many broadcasts and pirated performances available on CD and DVD.

In this On And Off The Record podcast, Adriaan Fuchs explores the phenomenal voice and artistry of Fiorenza Cossotto.

Podcast Track List

1) “S’apre per te il mio cor” (“Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix”) from Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Dalila)

2) “Condotta ell’era in ceppi” from Il trovatore (Verdi)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Azucena)
Carlo Cossutta (Manrico)
Conductor: Riccardo Muti
Recorded: “live” in Florence, 1977.

3) “O mio Fernando” from La favorita (Donizetti)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Leonora di Gusmann)
Orchestra of the Teatro Comunale, Bologna
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Recorded: 1978

4) “Habanera” from Carmen (Bizet)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Carmen)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice
Conductor: Peter Maag
Recorded: “live” in Venice, 1971.

5) Judgement Scene from Aida (Verdi)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Amneris)
Nicolai Ghiaurov (Ramfis)
Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Recorded: “live” in Milan, 4 October 1972.

6) “O don fatale” from Don Carlo (Verdi)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Eboli)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Silvio Varviso
Recorded: “live” in Vienna, 17 June 1968.

7) “Una voce poco fa” from Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Rosina)
Orchestra of La Scala
Recorded: “live” in Milan, 1964.

8) “O rimembranza” from Norma (Bellini)
Montserrat Caballé (Norma)
Fiorenza Cosotto (Adalgisa)
Turin Radio Orchestra
Conductor: Georges Prêtre
Recorded: “live”, 1971.

9) “Vieni t’affretta!” from Macbeth (Verdi)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Lady Macbeth)
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Riccardo Muti
Recorded: 1976.

10) “Voi lo sapete” from Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni)
Recorded: “live” in Moscow, 1964.

11) “E il tuo nocchiere” from La Gioconda (Ponchielli)
Maria Callas (Gioconda)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Laura Adorno)
Pier Miranda Ferraro (Enzo Grimaldo)
Orchestra of La Scala
Conductor: Antonino Votto
Recorded: 1959.

12) “Il Principe Gualtiero” from Suor Angelica (Puccini)
Katia Ricciarelli (Suor Angelica)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Zia Principessa)
Orchestra Stabile dell Accademia di Santa Cecilia
Conductor: Bruno Bartoletti
Recorded: 1973.

13) “Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio” & “Voi che sapete” from Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Cherubino)
Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini
Recorded: 1961.

14) “Nel giardin del bello” (Canzone del Velo) from Don Carlo (Verdi)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Eboli)
Rome Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Thomas Schippers
Recorded: “live” in 1969.


I Grandi della Lirica: Fiorenza Cossotto
RAI program on Fiorenza Cossotto, in Italian.

Judgement Scene from Aida (Verdi)
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Conductor: James Levine
Recorded: “live” on 5 January, 1985 at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

“Condotta ell’era in ceppi” from Il trovatore (Verdi)
Fiorenza Cossotto (Azucena)
Carlo Cossutta (Manrico)
Conductor: Riccardo Muti
Recorded: “live” in Florence, 1977.

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