Moffo Leaves Opera an Indelible 'Mimi'

American soprano Anna Moffo died Thursday due to complications from breast cancer. We hear her sing "Mi chi amano Mimi" from Puccini's "La Boheme."

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HANSEN: One of America's best operatic voices has fallen silent. Anna Moffo, a soprano who endeared herself to both American and Italian audiences, died Thursday in New York City. She was 73 years old. A dark haired beauty, Anna Moffo was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and Rome's Academia de Santa Chichilia(ph). She made her U.S. debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1957 as Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme.

Though she had a successful career, the road was rocky, particularly in the late 60s when her voice began to betray her. I was working much too hard and traveling much too much, she said in a 1977 interview. I got mixed up in TV, films, things like that. Psychologically I was miserable, always away, always alone. Yet it was precisely those appearances outside the normal opera venues that gained her enormous popularity with the public at large.

Her last regular performance at the Metropolitan Opera was in 1976 when she was still in her mid-forties. Later, she went back to a vocal teacher to see if she could regain her voice. It worked to a degree but her career never regained its previous luster. Here is a bit of Anna Moffo in a 1960 performance of the aria Mi chi amano Mimi from La Boheme.

The American soprano died on Thursday at the age of 73. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF OPERA MUSIC)

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