Stignani, Ebe

Italian mezzo-soprano, 1903 - 1974

Biographical notes:

She enjoyed her musical training at the Conservatorio Musicale S. Pietro a Majella in Naples. She studied piano playing, singing and composition. After five years at the conservatory she was immediately hired by Naples’ famous Teatro San Carlo, where she made her début as Amneris in 1925. In 1926 she added another famous and successful part to her repertory, it was Azucena. In that year the young singer was engaged by Arturo Toscanini at La Scala in Milan. Eboli was her first role there. From 1926 until 1953 Ebe Stignani was a member of the Scala ensemble and was regarded as its leading exponent of dramatic contralto and mezzo roles. She was also heard in French roles such as Carmen, Dalila and Mignon and  she was successful as Brangäne, Ortrud and Gutrune in the German repertoire. In 1927 she made her first guest appearance at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In 1937 she sang Amneris at Covent Garden. An important part of her work as a singer was her interest in reviving older operas such as Semiramis, Linda di Chamounix and La Favorita. She was an acclaimed singer at the Maggio musicale in Florence. Ebe Stignani sang more than one hundred roles in her career that lasted more than three decades! Her last appearance was as Ulrica in Florence in 1957.


As Santuzza


As Orfeo


As Carmen


Recordings: (selection)

Bellini - Norma (Gui 1936/Cigna, Breviario, Pasero)

Fonit Cetra Arkadia

Bellini - Norma (Gui 1952 live/Callas, Picchi, Sutherland)


Bellini - Norma (Serafin 1954/Callas, Filipeschi, Rossi-Lemeni)


Bellini - Norma (Serafin 1955 live/Callas, del Monaco, Modesti)


Bizet - Carmen (Bellezza 1949 live/Gigli, Gigli, Bechi)


Ponchielli - La Gioconda (Molajoli 1931/Arangi-Lombardi, Rota, Granda, Viviani

Naxos Historical

Spontini - La Vestale (Votto 1954 live/Callas, Corelli, Rossi-Lemeni)


Verdi - Aida (de Sabata 1937 live/Cigna, Gigli, Nava, Pasero)


Verdi - Aida (Serafin 1946/Caniglia, Gigli, Bechi, Pasero)

EMI            Arkadia

Verdi - Un Ballo in Maschera (Tieri 1957 live/Cerquetti, Poggi, Bastianini)

Standing Room Only

Verdi - Don Carlo (Previtali 1951/Caniglia, Rossi-Lemeni, Picchi, Silveri, Neri)

Fonit Cetra

Verdi - La Forza del Destino (Marinuzzi 1941/Caniglia, Masini, Tagliabue, Pasero)

Fonit Cetra Arkadia

Verdi - Il Trovatore (Votto 1953 live/Callas, Penno, Tabliabue, Modesti)


Recital (Arias by Gluck, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Thomas, Mascagni, Saint-Saëns)

Preiser - LV

Classic Collection

Fonit Cetra

Four Famous Italian Mezzo-Sopranos (Minghini-Cattaneo, Pederzini, Elmo)

Preiser - LV

Casa Sonzogno - A Historical Vocal Portrait


Incontri Memorabili No. 20 (Fineschi, Olivero, De Cavalieri, Tassinari)

Fonit Cetra

Thomas - Mignon (Excerpts by several French and Italian singers)


La Scala Edition Vol. 2


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



As Azucena


As Amneris


Clemens Höslinger wrote: “The mezzo-soprano Ebe Stigani had a prominent place in the ensemble of La Scala between the wars. She was a versatile, devoted artist, a lively and passionate actress, a singer with an expansive, metallic voice, eminently suited for dramatic, high-strung roles such as Amneris, Eboli, Carmen and Santuzza. Veracity of expression, absolute dedication to the artistic task in hand were characteristic of her personality - not so much a high-bred vocal culture or complacent, soulless “prettified” singing.”

Her voice is glorious. What I miss (but very rarely) is a “personal view” of a character in her singing. But what a voice! I prefer her earlier recordings. She sings Per sua madre andrò una figlia (Linda di Chamounix) in a great way, her Eboli is unsurpassed, there is the splendid aria Laceri, miseri, tanti bambini from L’Amico Fritz and last but not least, the two Dalila arias.

 O don fatale (Eboli in Don Carlos / Verdi / Cetra 1940)


As Santuzza