Muzio, Claudia

Italian soprano, 1889 - 1936

Biographical notes:

Her father was a stage director at Covent Garden and the Met, her mother a chorus singer. Among her teachers was Annetta Casaloni, Verdi’s first Maddalena in Rigoletto, who probably helped her to obtain engagements at Turin in 1911/13/14. She made her debut in Massenet’s Manon (Arezzo 1910). In the Covent Garden summer season she attracted considerable attraction in some of her best roles as Desdemona, Margherita in Mefistofele, Tosca and Mimì, but was never to return to that theatre. In the USA, however, she quickly became a much admired member, first of the Met company (debut there as Tosca), where she remained for seven seasons and reappeared briefly in 1934 (and where she sang Giorgetta in the premiere of Puccini’s Trittico). She also appeared at the Chicago Opera where she made her debut as Aida in 1922 to which she returned for nine seasons.  During  this period she was also much in demand in the principal South American opera houses. In Italy she made some notable appearances under Toscanini at la Scala in 1926/27, but thereafter sang mostly in Rome.  Muzio’s repertory embraced all the leading Verdi and Puccini roles, as well as those of the verismo school. Her stage presence must have been most impressive. In private life she was dignified and withdrawn. It was a widely held belief that she had no private life but was devoted wholly to her work. On stage she was the great tragedienne, the Duse of the lyric theatre. Muzio died at an early age of 47. Various sources speak of heart desease, suicide, cancer, kidney-desease and even poison...


As Tosca


As Cio-Cio-San


As Santuzza


Recordings: (selection)

The Complete Pathé Recordings 1917 - 1918


HMV (1911), Edison Recordings 1920 - 1925


The Complete Columbia Recordings 1934- 1935


Casa Sonzogno - A Historical Vocal Portrait


La Scala Edition Vol. 2


Covent Garden on Record Vol. 3


Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 2 and 3


Il “Carlo Felice” di Genova Vol. 3



As Violetta


As Nedda



The tenor Giacomo Lauri-Volpi wrote of Muzio “singing with that unique voice of hers made of tears and sighs and restrained interior fire.” The best years, around 1930, were probably her best, precisely the years in which she did not record! Between 1924 and 1934 there is a ten-year gap. The missing period would seem to be the very one in which her interpretations had matured while her voice was still in prime condition. The early records may lack the intensity and creativeness of her later recordings, and in the famous Columbias one is aware of some physical limitations (uneasy high notes, flatness, mannerisms in style and enunciation, vowels!), but there is a pathos, an inner committment and charm in her singing that is immensely moving and touching. Only a few sopranos equalled her in this aspect of emotional involvement.


Claudia Muzio as Tosca (Act 2)


Claudia Muzio and Giuseppe de Luca in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier


My favorite recordings:

Pathé recordings 1917/1918:

- Suicidio! (Title role in La Gioconda / Ponchielli)

- O patria mia (Title role in Aida / Verdi)

- Teneste la promessa...Addio  del passato (Violetta in La Traviata / Verdi)

Edison recordings 1920 - 1925:

- La mamma morte (Maddalena in Andrea Chénier / Giordano)

- Ebben? Ne andrò lontana (Title role in La Wally / Catalani)

- Ammogliato...Dir che ci sono al mondo (Title role in Zazà / Leoncavallo)

- Doven son? (Title role in La Wally / Catalani)

- L’altra notte in fondo al mare (Margherita in Mefistofele / Boito)

- Sorgi, o padre (Bianca in Bianca e Fernando / Bellini)

 - O madre, dal cielo soccorri al mio pianto (Giselda in I Lombardi / Verdi)

- Mercè, dilette amiche (Elena in I Vespri Siciliani / Verdi)

Columbia recordings 1934/1935:

 Per amor di Gesù porgete il core (Refice)

 - Colombetta (Buzzi-Peccia)

- Mi chiamano Mimì (Mimì in La Bohème / Puccini)

- Teneste la promessa...Addio  del passato (Violetta in La Traviata / Verdi)

- Poveri fiori (Title role in Adriana Lecouvreur / Cilea)


As Leonora in “Il Trovatore”