Fedora Barbieri, whose big, rich, dramatic mezzo-soprano complemented the voices of such titans as Maria Callas, Jussi Bjorling and Cesare Siepi, died March 4 in Florence, Italy. She was 82.
Of her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1950 — as Eboli in a new production of Verdi’s “Don Carlos” on the opening night of Sir Rudolf Bing’s regime — Olin Downes of the New York Times wrote that she was “a superb mezzo from Italy, with a kindling dramatic temperament.”
Born in 1920 in Trieste, Italy, Barbieri made her operatic debut in 1940 as Fidalma in Cimarosa’s “The Secret Marriage” at the Teatro Comunale in Florence. She first sang at La Scala in 1943, and began appearing there regularly in 1946. She sang at the Met from 1950-54, 1956-57 and 1967-68.
On Barbieri’s return to the New York house as Mistress Quickly in Verdi’s “Falstaff” in 1967, Donal Henahan in the New York Times hailed “that adorable foghorn of a voice.”
Her farewell there took place on Feb. 26, 1977, as the Princess in Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” and Zita in his “Gianni Schicchi. Her repertoryincluded 109 roles. Altogether at the Met, she sang 95 performances of 11 roles in 10 seasons.
Barbieri left a significant recorded legacy, including multiple versions of “Aida,” among other Verdi operas. She was married to Luigi Barlozzetti, a music director who managed her career. He died in 1986. She is survived by sons Ugo and Franco, both of Florence.