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Stoyanka Savova Nikolova (Bulgarian: Стоянка Савова Николова), best known by her stage name Elena Nicolai (Bulgarian: Елена Николай) (24 January 1905 – 23 October 1993), was a Bulgarian mezzo-soprano and opera singer.
Nicolai was born in the village of Tzerovo, Pazardzhik, Bulgaria. She spent her childhood in another Bulgarian town, Panagurishte. She made her operatic debut as Maddalena in Verdi's Rigoletto in 1932. She spent 20 seasons as a leading mezzo-soprano at Milan's Teatro alla Scala. After her retirement from opera, she became an actress and had a short film career, starring in seven movies in the period between 1963-68.
She recorded complete operas for RAI and EMI: Eboli in Don Carlos with Stella, Boris Christoff, and Tito Gobbi stands out among the others, which include the Grand Vestale in La vestale and Cuniza in Oberto, both with Maria Vitale, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana with Mario del Monaco, the Principessa in Adriana Lecouvreur with Mafalda Favero, and Preziosilla in La forza del destino with Callas. She sang Wagnerian roles, including Brünnhilde in 'Die Walküre' at the Verona Arena.
- Nicolai, Elena (1993). La mia vita fra i grandi del melodramma. Parma: Azzali. p. 200.
- Her page on the Stars of Bulgarian Opera site with mp3 audio clips of selected arias
- Elena Nicolai at the Internet Movie Database
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