Elmo, Cloe

Italian mezzo-soprano, 1909 - 1962

(courtesy of Charles B. Mintzer)

Biographical notes:

She was born in Lecce and started to study singing at the age of 17 at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Her teacher was Edvige Ghibaudo. For a long time it was not clear whether she was a soprano or a mezzo. Her teacher initially classified her student as a dramatic soprano and thus nominated her for an international singing contest in Vienna. She won the first prize. But she did not feel ready of a professional career and continued to study with Rinolfi and Pedrini. She made her début in Cagliari as Santuzza in 1935. Her first important engagement was as Adalgisa at the Teatro in Turin. In the following years the artist was to become one of the busiest singers on Italian Radio and took part in over 40 productions. In 1936 Cloe Elmo made her début as Meg Page in Falstaff at La Scala. Brangäne and Azucena became her next roles, then she was also heard in Mosè in Egitto, Martha, I quattro rusteghi, Oberon, Vito Frazzi’s Re Lear and other modern operas. She appeared at all major Italian stages as well as in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Rumania and Switzerland. Her début at the Met was as Azucena in 1947. Although she was successful her career at the Met did not pursue the way she had hoped. She was heard there as Azucena (only once) and sang the roles of Santuzza,  Ulrica and of course Mrs. Quickly. Cloe Elmo did not to renew her contract and returned to Italy where she concentrated herself more and more on teaching. In 1954 she was appointed professor in Ankara, a position which had been occupied by Elvira De Hidalgo and Giannina Arangi-Lombardi before.


As Carmen

(courtesy of Charles B. Mintzer)



Verdi - Falstaff (Reiner 1949/Warren, Valdengo, di Stefano, Resnik, Albanese)


Verdi - Falstaff (Toscanini 1950/Valdengo, Guarrera, Madasi, Nelli, Stich-Randall, Merriman)


Verdi - Falstaff (de Sabata 1951/Stabile, Silveri, Valletti, Tebaldi, Noni)

Nuova Era

Verdi - Messa da Requiem (Toscanini 1950/Tebaldi, Prandelli, Siepi)


Recital (Arias by Verdi, Wagner, Ponchielli, Giordano, Cilea, Massenet. Songs by Brahms, Grieg and Strauss)

Preiser - LV (LP)

Four Famous Italian Mezzo-Sopranos (Irene Minghini-Cattaneo, Gianna Pederzini, Ebe Stignani)

Preiser - LV

Casa Sonzogno - A Historical Vocal Portrait


Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 4




Cloe Elmo is an underrated singer. She is one of four Italian mezzo-sopranos I adore most. The other ones are Ebe Stignani, Gabriella Besanzoni and Irene Minghini-Cattaneo.

It is a pity that Cloe Elmo was not a prolific recording artist.  She is well-known for her humorous Mrs. Quickly in three integral recordings conducted by Toscanini, Reiner and de Sabata. The following list of arias give proof of a great mezzo-/contralto voice. This is magic singing.

The voice is a dramatic, warm and naturally produced instrument. She has a wonderful deep and a truly exciting upper register. Her singing is full of passion and fire. It is “veristic” singing but it never would affect her glorious voice.

My favorite recordings:

 Stella del marinar (Laura in La Gioconda / Ponchielli / Cetra 1942)

- O grandi gli occhi lucenti (Title role in Fedora /Giordano / Cetra 1941)

- O vagabonda stella d’Oriente (Princess of Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur / Cilea / Cetra 1941)

- Io son sua per l’amore with Gina Cigna (Princess of Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur / Cilea / Cetra 1941)

- Vi scrivo qui dalla stanzetta mia (Charlotte in Werther / Massenet / Cetra 1942)


As Amneris (courtesy of Charles B. Mintzer)


As Mrs. Quickly


My warmest thanks to Charles B. Mintzer