Happy Birthday Katia Ricciarelli
Possessed of one of the most beautiful soprano voices of the late Twentieth Century, in my opinion, is Katia Ricciarelli. During her prime no one could spin as delicate a sound as Ricciarelli, her pianissimi have to be heard to be believed.
Her vocal decline is legendary. Pressed to early into roles that didn't suit her voice, notably by Herbert von Karajan, she entered the lyrico-spinto repertoire to mixed results. Had she stayed in the repertoire most suited to her, that of middle Verdi, Rossini and other Bel Canto roles, who knows, she may even still be singing today.
I must confess however, to enjoying even her less delicate recordings, including her seriously flawed Turandot. Riciarelli's Tosca was the first complete recording I bought on LP and it remains one of my favourites to this day (don't judge me). I always adored her partnerships with Jose Carreras, to me they were THE star operatic couple of the 80's. Ok, so I had a bit of a crush (on both of them).
Of course she is probably most famous for her interpretation of Desdemona in the Zeffirelli film of Verdi's Otello, in which she is stunning, both visually and vocally, even though you must hear the audio recording to here her Willow Song as it was cut from the movie.
Katia has emerged as somewhat of a favourite on Italian TV and to this day coaches many singers and is the Artistic Director of the Macerata Festival in Italy.
In order to really appreciate the ethereal beauty of her high notes, you really must listen to the final moments of her 1973 recording of Puccini's Suor Angelica. Captured at her very prime, this is singing of the most exquisite kind.