Born in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, she left home at 17 to study singing in Milan, Italy. She sneaked into a friend’s audition before the conductor Arturo Toscanini at La Scala and landed a part with the legendary opera company.
In 1947, Italian writer Lanfranco Rasponi introduced her to Menotti, who was casting the role of the fraudulent psychic in his opera The Medium. The opera was staged on Broadway along with another one-act Menotti opera, The Telephone, or L'Amour à trois. Powers was hailed as a star for her dramatic performance as the phony psychic, and she repeated the role on live television in 1948 and in an expanded film production directed by Menotti in 1951.
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