It's the week for birthday Divas and today we celebrate Mirella Freni's 79th. Long an audience favourite particularly in the lyric roles of Verdi and Puccini, she remains ever popular through her recordings, movies and most recently as a teacher, holding masterclasses in her native Italy.
Mirella Freni's association with her childhood friend from Modena Luciano Pavarotti, continued throughout their career, giving us some recordings that remain benchmarks of singing to this day, especially their recordings of Madama Butterfly and La Boheme for Herbert von Karajan in the early 70's.
There is something so golden about Mirella Freni's voice that immediately endears her to the listener, it's almost like you can hear that gorgeous dimpled smile, while crying with her at the same time. Her recordings have graced my shelves for many years, her Aida, Desdemona, both Mimis and Butterflys and Manon Lescauts, the first of which I've been friends with since I was a teenager.
My favourite ever Mimi on video, below is her aria from Act 1 in the 1965 movie by von Karajan with designs by Zeffirelli. The production is from La Scala, Milan and one of the best Bohemes available.
Buon Compleanno Diva!