Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Aug 29, 2011

Ersilde Cervi-Caroli (Soprano) (Casumaro 1883 - Ferrara 1964)

She was in Ferrara pupil of  Elisa Donzelli Stefanini. She made her debut in 1902 at Comunale of Cesenatico as Mimi in ‘’La Boheme’’ and already in 1906 she made her debut at La Scala, Milan singing the role of Micaela in ‘’Carmen’’. She became known above all as an interpreter of the soprano parts in operas of the verist composers and sang in many big Italian opera houses: at the Teatro Costanzi Rome (where she created in 1916 the title role in the Italian premiere of Charpentier’s ‘’Louise’’), at the Teatro Regio Parma (1913 as Alice Ford in Verdi’s ‘’Falstaff’’), at the Teatro Massimo Palermo (1922), at the Teatro Della pergola, Firenze (1919, title role in ‘’Suor of Angelica’’ of  Puccini), at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice (1921), at the Teatro Dal Verme, Milan (1924). In 1914 she made guest appearance at the Teatro Petit in St. Petersburg where she performed in ‘’Manon’’ and ‘’Tosca’’. She also appeared in Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, San Paolo and Warsaw. She performed also in the premieres of the contemporary Italian operas, thus in ‘’Maria di Magdala’’ of A.Pedrollo (Rome, 1924), ‘’Shanda’’ of  F. Lattuada (Genoa, 1924) and ‘’Anna Karenina’’ of I. Robbiani (Rome, 1924). In 1936 she sang for the last time at the Teatro Grande in Brescia in the title role of the Puccini’s opera ‘’Madama Butterfly’’. She sat down as a song pedagogue and belonged from 1947 to 1952 to the faculty of the opera school of the Teatro Comunale in Florence. Among her pupils where Renata Tebaldi, Clara Petrella and Lella Gaio.

Chronology of some appearances

1902 Cesenatico Teatro Comunale Boheme (Mimi)
1904 Serravalle Politeama Boheme (Mimi)
1906 Firenze Teatro Verdi Guglielmo Tell (Matilde)
1908 Bologna Teatro Olimpia Boheme (Mimi)
1910 Verona Teatro Filarmonico Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San)
1912 Roma Teatro Costanzi Boheme (Mimi)
1914 Napoli Teatro San Carlo Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San)
1916 Roma Teatro Costanzi Manon Lescaut (Manon)
1918 La Spezia Politeama Duca di Genova Wally (Wally)
1920 Genova Teatro Paganini Fedora (Fedora)
1922 Como Teatro Sociale Anima Allegra di F.Vittadini (Consuelo)
1924 Ravenna Teatro Alighieri Tosca (Tosca)
1926 Napoli Teatro San Carlo Adriana Lecouvreur (Adriana)
1928 Genova Teatro Carlo Felice Werther (Carlotta)
1930 Pisa Teatro Verdi Fedora (Fedora)
1932 Malta Teatro Reale Madame Sans-Gene di U.Giordano
1936 Brescia Teatro Sociale Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San)



Fonotipia, Milano 1907-01-18
Carmen (Bizet): Ah! mi parla di lei 62004 XPh2341
Carmen (Bizet): Ti baciava mia madre 62005 XPh2342
Carmen (Bizet): Io dico, no, non son paurosa Unpubl. XPh 2343

Fonotipia, Milano 1907-02-06
Manon (Massenet):  Uscita di Manon Unpubl. XPh 2427

Fonotipia, Milano 1908-04-28
Manon (Massenet): Ancor son io 92950 XPh 3194
Boheme (Puccini): Si, mi chiamano Mimi 92462 XPh 3195

Fonotipia, Milano 1908-05-08
Carmen (Bizet): Ah! mi parla di lei with  Mario Gilion 92248 XPh3340
Carmen (Bizet):  Ti baciava mia madre with  Mario Gilion 92249 XPh3341

Fonotipia, Milano 1909-04-20
Manon Lescaut (Puccini): In quelle trine morbide 92461 XPh 3834


  1. MOLTO BELLO!!! Thank you for sharing this valuable biographical information.

  2. Ersilde Cervi Caroli was probably the 'star' in the Opera scene of early 1900's. Her voice, her majestic interpretations and her beauty fascinated from Nikolaj, Tzar of Russia, who wanted her in his country for several months to Giacomo Puccini who use to keep her picture as Manon on his desk. She also had a very unusual life for a woman of her times: separated from her husband, she went a difficult way through success peaks to fall. There are only a few recordings of her voice, taken around 1910-15: She decided to never record again because her voice sounded distorted and probably for this reason her memory faded away. Still her name populates the most reputable Music enciclopedies and she has a particular place in the hart of Opera history lovers... and in mine, because she was my great-grandmother. Guen Rossi

  3. Book suggestion -unfortunately in talian only-
    'Io son l'Umile Ancella' by Adriano Orlandini.