Giuditta Pasta

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Giuditta Pasta
Giuditta Pasta.jpg
Giuditta Pasta
Background information
Birth name Giuditta Angiola Maria Costanza Negri
Born (1797-10-26)26 October 1797
Saronno, Italy
Died 1 April 1865(1865-04-01) (aged 67)
Blevio, Italy
Genres soprano sfogato
Occupations Opera singer
Years active 1823-1854

Giuditta Angiola Maria Costanza Pasta (née Negri; 26 October 1797 – 1 April 1865), born in Saronno, Italy, was a soprano considered among the greatest of opera singers, to whom the 20th-century soprano Maria Callas was compared.

Studies and career[edit]

Pasta studied in Milan with Giuseppe Scappa and Davide Banderali and later with Girolamo Crescentini and Ferdinando Paer among others. In 1816 she made her professional opera début in the world première of Scappa's Le tre Eleonore at the Teatro degli Accademici Filodrammatici in Milan. Later that year she performed at the Théâtre Italien in Paris as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Giulietta in Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli’s Giulietta e Romeo, and in two operas by Paer.

Pasta's first appearance in London in 1817 was a failure. Further studies with Scappa were followed by a successful debut in Venice in 1819. She caused a sensation in Paris in 1821–22, where the immense range of her voice and her dramatic gifts were matched by poignancy of expression. She sang regularly in London, Paris, Milan and Naples between 1824 and 1837. She created Donizetti's Anna Bolena in Milan (Teatro Carcano) in 1830 and Amina in Bellini's La sonnambula and Norma (both in Milan in 1831).

Pasta also taught singing in Italy. Among her notable pupils were contralto Emma Albertazzi and soprano Marianna Barbieri-Nini and the English soprano Adelaide Kemble who records this in her memoirs. She also records how when after her career was really over Pasta unwisely came to London for a charity concert. Kemble asked fellow-singer Pauline Viardot what she thought of her voice now and got the reply ‘It is a ruin, but then so is Leonardo’s Last Supper’.

After 1841 Pasta lived in retirement at her Lake Como villa and in Milan, devoting herself to advanced vocal instruction, which she was eminently qualified to impart.[1] Pasta died in Blevio, a town in the province of Como on April 1, 1865, at the age of 67.


Giuditta Pasta's voice was what could be called a soprano sfogato:

Madame Pasta's voice has a considerable range. She can achieve perfect resonance on a note as low as bottom A, and can rise as high as C#, or even to a slightly sharpened D; and she possesses the rare ability to be able to sing contralto as easily as she can sing soprano. I would suggest ... that the true designation of her voice is mezzo-soprano, and any composer who writes for her should use the mezzo-soprano range for the thematic material of his music, while still exploiting, as it were incidentally and from time to time, notes which lie within the more peripheral areas of this remarkably rich voice. Many notes of this last category are not only extremely fine in themselves, but have the ability to produce a kind of resonant and magnetic vibration, which, through some still unexplained combination of physical phenomena, exercises an instantaneous and hypnotic effect upon the soul of the spectator.
This leads to the consideration of one of the most uncommon features of Madame Pasta's voice: it is not all moulded from the same metallo, as it is said in Italy (which is to say that it possesses more than one timbre); and this fundamental variety of tone produced by a single voice affords one of the richest veins of musical expression which the artistry of a great cantatrice is able to exploit.[2]



  1. ^ Elson 1912.
  2. ^ Pleasants 1961, p. 374


  • Appoloni, Giorgio (1997), Giuditta Pasta glory of Belcanto. EDA, Torino.
  • Elson, Louis Charles (ed.) (1912). "Giuditta Pasta". 'University Musical Encyclopedia (Great Vocalists). 
  • Pleasants, Henry (1966), The Great Singers, New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. Second ed. 1981 ISBN 0-671-42160-3
  • Stern, Kenneth (2011), Giuditta Pasta: A Life on the Lyric Stage, Operaphile Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-578-07406-1