Daniela Dessi.

Opera singer.

Born. 14th May 1957;

Died 21st August 2016.

The renowned Italian soprano Daniela Dessi, who has died aged 59, was amongst the most distinguished lyric sopranos of recent years. She appeared in all the principal opera houses of the world and worked with many of the leading international conductors.

Ms Dessi had a prolific recording career including singing the title role in Madama Butterfly under Placido Domingo. Her artistry was particularly recognised at La Scala, Milano and at the Metropolitan Opera House New York. The latter House has paid tribute to Ms Dessi’s career by describing her “solid technique, strong temperament and rare interpretative sensibility.”

Daniela Dessi was brought up in Genoa and studied singing at the Conservatoires of Parma and Sienna and making her professional debut in 1981. In opera she specialised on the bel canto repertory (notably Rossini) and the operas of Puccini and Verdi. But her vocal versatility and her imposing stage-presence made her well-suited to the big dramatic soprano roles.

Significantly, Ms Dessi had recently assumed some of the most challenging roles in the soprano repertoire including Norma - which she has recorded under Evelino Pido – and Turandot.

Her international career took off in the early 1980s when Claudio Abbado often engaged her to sing at La Scala. Her renown spread and such maestri as Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta and Giuseppe Sinopoli cast her in a variety of roles. Indeed, she and her partner, the tenor Fabio Armiliato, were singing Aida in Berlin on the night in April 2001 when Sinopoli collapsed and died in the pit.

Highlights of her distinguished career included singing Act III of La Boheme at a gala at the Met – her Mimi and Luciano Pavarotti’s Rodolfo were cheered to the rafters. At another Met gala she sang an act of Andrea Chénier with Domingo.

Surprisingly Ms Dessi sang little in the UK – she only appeared once with the Royal Opera (a revival of Otello in 2001) and was often engaged by American festivals in the summer.

She had a wonderful, clear voice with a smooth quality all through the range. She delivered the lyrics with matchless clarity and was always a committed actress.

Ms Dessi is survived by her partner of sixteen years Fabio Armiliato. She was previously married to the tenor Giuseppe Sabbatini.

Alasdair Steven