Patrizia Ciofi/Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
Patrizia Ciofi has become a leading soprano exponent of the major operas of Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, and the Italian operas of Mozart. Not that her choice of repertory is limited to that clutch of composers: she has sung a vast array of roles in works by Monteverdi (Euridice from Orfeo), Handel (Polissena from Radamisto), Vivaldi (Idaspe from Bajazet), and much else further afield, including Bizet, Offenbach, Massenet, Wagner, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Mussorgsky, and countless others. She has also sung contemporary opera: her major debut came in Gino Negri's Giovanni Sebastiano. It can be argued she has sung as many different roles on major operatic stages as any soprano of her time. Her attractive voice is bright in timbre and versatile, affording her the ability to tackle so many roles with such pleasing character and spirit. Ciofi has made over 50 recordings, the bulk of them available on EMI, Virgin Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Dynamic, and Decca. Patrizia Ciofi was born in Tuscany, Casole d'Elsa (near Siena), Italy, in 1967. She studied with famed Polish soprano Anastasia Tomasewska-Schepis in Siena and later graduated from the Conservatorio Pietro Mascagni in Livorno. She attended master classes at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena led by Shirley Verrett, Carlo Bergonzi, Alberto Zedda, and Giorgio Gualerzi. After her 1989 debut at Florence (Teatro Comunale) in Negri's Giovanni Sebastiano, she appeared as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni in several smaller Italian and foreign opera houses, and from 1991-1993 she appeared in a number of Verdi operas at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, where she scored major critical successes. By 1996, when she first sang Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, in Savona, she had become a rising international star. She drew rave reviews for her Violetta (Verdi's La Traviata) in 1997 at La Scala. Ciofi's recordings were drawing attention, too: her 1998 Lucia (in the French version) on Dynamic was a huge success. A string of notable debuts followed: Opera Bastille (1999), where she sang Nanetta in Falstaff; Covent Garden (2002), portraying Gilda (Rigoletto); Chicago (2003) as Violetta, and others. Ciofi's long-awaited debut at the Vienna State Opera did not come until 2008, when she sang Amina in Bellini's La Sonnambula. Ciofi has had several recordings released in 2009, including the acclaimed Bel Canto Spectacular on Decca, a collection of popular arias by Donizetti, Rossini, and Bellini.