Frances Alda was one of the main lyric sopranos of her day, with a voice that could also encompass the occasional spinto role, such as Boito's Margharita and Verdi's Desdemona, though her top notes were rarely completely secure. She came from a musical family and started her stage career as a light opera performer when she was 18, but soon realized, encouraged by her aunt Frances Savile (herself an opera singer), that serious opera would provide better career opportunities. She went to Paris, where she studied with Marchesi and, in 1904, made her opera debut as Manon at the Opera-Comique. Her career expanded with debuts throughout Europe; in 1908, she made her Met debut as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, where she was to become the reigning lyric. She created the soprano leads of Damrosch's Cyrano de Bergerac, Herbert's Madeleine, and Hadley's Cleopatra's Night. In 1910, she married Met manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza; the marriage lasted until 1928. Alda retired in 1929 and published her memoirs, Men, Women, and Tenors, in 1937.
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