Mirella Freni was the textbook example of a lyric soprano who expanded wisely to the spinto roles, conserving her voice so that even in her sixties, she still possessed enough vocal freshness and bloom that she made a credible Mimi in theaters all over the world. (In Italy, one of her nicknames was "La Prudentissima," or "the most prudent one.") She was also a highly sympathetic actor in both comedies and more serious roles. Freni was born on February 27, 1935, in Modena, Italy. In an amusing coincidence, she and Luciano Pavarotti shared the same wet nurse as a child (both of their mothers worked in a tobacco factory, making their milk unsuitable), and she later joked that he obviously got the bigger share of the milk. Freni was a child prodigy, singing "Sempre libera" in her first public performance at the age of ten. At 12, she made ...
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