Margherita Rinaldi (12 January 1935 – 7 September 2023) is remembered as an eminent Italian lyric soprano, whose prime years were during the 1960s and 1970s.
Born in Turin, Italy, Rinaldi undertook her musical journey in Rovigo. Her first recognition came when she clinched a vocal competition in Spoleto, which also became the stage for her debut in 1958. There, she shined in the leading role of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. A year later, the prestigious La Scala in Milan would witness her magic as Sinaide in Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto.
Throughout her career, Rinaldi showcased her talent in Italy’s top opera houses, personifying roles such as Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula and Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. Her prowess wasn’t just limited to Italian opera; she showcased her finesse in works by Mozart and Cimarosa as well.
1966 was a landmark year for Rinaldi, with her portrayal as Giulietta in Claudio Abbado’s adaptation of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi at La Scala. Sharing the stage with greats like Giacomo Aragall and Luciano Pavarotti, her performance remains legendary.
Rinaldi’s extensive work for RAI between 1963 and 1975 added to her stardom. Here, she lent her voice to roles from Meyerbeer’s Le Prophète to Handel’s Giulio Cesare. Her collaboration with Pavarotti in 1964 for Verdi’s La traviata, recorded in Dublin, remains notable.
Her 1977 rendition as Amenaide in Rossini’s Tancredi opposite Marilyn Horne at Teatro dell’Opera in Rome received overwhelming applause. This performance even made its way to the television screens via a RAI TV broadcast. A subsequent year had her portraying Adalgisa in Bellini’s Norma at the Teatro Comunale in Florence. This performance, led by Riccardo Muti and featuring Renata Scotto, is remembered for its authentic representation.
Rinaldi’s international stints are also noteworthy. She graced the American stage for the first time at the Dallas Opera in 1966. She later performed at renowned venues like the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and prestigious festivals in Glyndebourne, Wexford, and Bregenz.
Her recording footprint is limited, with notable works being Rigoletto and Mozart’s Idomeneo. However, thanks to unofficial recordings, many of her live performances have been immortalized, preserving her ethereal voice for future generations.
Apart from opera, Rinaldi had a soft corner for sacred music. Memorable performances include Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle at La Scala and Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore for RAI TV. She also contributed to the inaugural recording of Rossini’s Messa di gloria in 1974.
After captivating audiences for decades, Rinaldi chose to retreat from the limelight in 1981. She then spent her days near Florence, guiding budding singers.
The world bid goodbye to this magnificent soprano on 7 September 2023 when she breathed her last in Impruneta. Margherita Rinaldi’s life and career serve as an inspiration, reminding us of the timeless beauty of opera and the voice that once dominated its stage.