Italian soprano Daniela Dessì, known for her performances at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, died on Saturday evening in Brescia, Italy, after a short battle with colon cancer. She was 59.
Last month, Dessì wrote in a Facebook post that she was forced to cancel all upcoming summer appearances due to a “health problem.” Dessì, who specialized in bel canto and Italian repertoire, was scheduled to give a recital in Loreto, Italy, in October.
A native of Genoa, Italy, Dessì made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1995 as Nedda in Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci,” and went on to sing in 21 performances with the company over the last 20 years. Besides the Met, she also sang at almost every major opera house worldwide, including Wiener Staatsoper in Vienna and Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Dessì was known for her interpretations of the title characters in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” and “Tosca,” as well as Leonora in Verdi’s “La Forza Del Destino.” Her voice was most recently heard at the Rio Olympics, where a recording of the aria “Nessun Dorma,” sang with her partner Fabi Armiliato, accompanied Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari’s routine.
She is survived by Armiliato, as well as family and close friends.
“A short, horrible, and incomprehensible illness has taken her away in these months,” Armiliato told Italian publication ANSA. “The greatest opera singer of the last 20 years has gone.”
A funeral has been scheduled for Aug. 23 in Brescia, according to the site Gramilano.
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