Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Apr 17, 2015

Maria Labia (Soprano) (Verona, Italy 1880 - Malcesine, Lake Garda, Italy 1953)




Her sister was the famous soprano Fausta Labia, the wife of the tenor Emilio Perea. She studied with her mother, Cecilia Labia, making her début in 1905 as Mimì in Stockholm. In 1907 she appeared at the Komische Oper, Berlin, as Tosca, returning subsequently as Carmen, Marta (''Tiefland'') and Salome, among other roles. She sang at the Manhattan Opera House, New York (1908–9), La Scala (1912) and the Paris Opéra (1913). In 1916 she was imprisoned for a year in Ancona as a suspected German agent. Resuming her career after the war, she sang Giorgetta in the first European performance of ''Il tabarro'' (1919, Rome), repeating the role in that year in Buenos Aires. In the first Scala production of Wolf-Ferrari's ''I quattro rusteghi'' (1922) she played Felice, a role that became her favourite and in which she continued to appear until 1936. Her performances in verismo operas were said to be impulsive and, for their day, ‘shamelessly sensual’. She used her warm, not especially large, voice with particular reliance on the chest register. Some early recordings remain of her Tosca and Carmen.

Chronology of some appearances

1905 Stockholm Opera
1907 Berlin Komische Oper
1908 New York Manhattan Opera
1909 New York Manhattan Opera
1912 Milan La Scala
1913 Paris Opéra


Odeon, Berlin 1908-05-01
Carmen (Bizet): Ja, die Liebe hat bunte Flügel 50481 xB 3632
Carmen (Bizet): Draußen am Wall von Sevilla 50482 xB 3633

Odeon, Berlin 1909-09-01
Carmen (Bizet): Bist du endlich da? with Hermann Jadlowker  50632 xB 4560
Carmen (Bizet): Ins Quartier, zum Appell? with Hermann Jadlowker 50633 xB 4561
Trovatore (Verdi): Hab' Erbarmen, o Herr, mit einer Seele with Hermann Jadlowker 50631 xB 4575
Ballo in maschera (Verdi): Weißt du nicht, daß, wenn Schlangen der Reue with Hermann Jadlowker  50634 xB 4564mb

Huguenots (Meyerbeer): Tu l'as dit oui, tu m'aimes with Valentin Jaume 3161-B Unpubl.

Edison 4-min cylinders, London 1911?
Otello (Verdi): Ave Maria 35021
Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni): Voi lo sapete BA 28114
Tosca (Puccini): Non la sospiri BA 28153

Edison, London 1912?
Seconda mattinata (Leoncavallo) 82010

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