Heraring, Meeting and Corresponding with

Magda Olivero

March 25, 1910 - September 8, 2014


In 1969 at age 14, I saw Magda Olivero sing Fedora with the Dallas Civic Opera. The cast included Bruno Prevedi, Gilda Cruz-Romo, Julian Patrick, Italo Tajo and Nicola Zaccaria. I only remember that at one point, she was lying on her stomach and singing.

Magda Olivero as Fedora, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples
Photograph courtesy of opera nostalgia


When I attended a birthday party for Dallas Morning News music critic, John Ardoin given by the Fort Worth Star Telegram music critic, Leonard Eureka in early January of 1975, I got first hand recommendations for Callas recordings from Mr. Ardoin - the Berlin Lucia, the Edinborough Sonnambula, etc. Ardoin then invited me to meet him in New York (I was a piano major at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory at the time) when He would be there to attend a Falstaff broadcast.

I met him in the lobby of the Met on April 5, 1975. As we were walking down the left aisle to take our seats, he introduced me to two other people in our party, the duo-pianists Richard and John Cantiguglia. When we arrived at the correct row, up walks pianist Ivan Davis with an elderly woman. I was introduced but I didn't catch her name.

After the second act, all of us except John Ardoin made our way to List Hall for the broadcast's intermission feature, a Record Collector's Corner. Ardoin was to be a panelist. The first question was a "drop the needle" or singer identification question where one had to identify the singer and, in this instance, talk about aspects of the vocal technique. The first was Luisa Tetrazini sgingin the finale of "Je suis Titania" from Mignon, then Rosa Ponselle in abn excerpt from and aria from Spontini's La vestale. The third selection was the closing measures of "Ah, fors'e lui" from La traviata.

John Ardoin identified the voice as that of Magda Olivero. Edward Downes then pointed out that we were in the presence of the great diva (the lady whose name I hadn't caught). She was sitting two seats to the right from me), something this 20-year-old would never forget.

Listen to this excerpt from the intermission feature


In 2005, discussions began about making a documentary about Claudia Muzio, utilizing her silent home movies. I thought there was a possibility that Mme. Olivero had met or heard Muzio sing. I wrote to her and received a very kind reply.