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Famous Like Me > Singer > S > Bidu Sayão

Profile of Bidu Sayão on Famous Like Me

Name: Bidu Sayão  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 13th March 1902
Place of Birth: Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Profession: Singer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Bidu Sayão (May 11, 1902 - March 13, 1999) was Brazil's most famous opera singer and one of the greatest stars of the Metropolitan Opera for fifteen years (1937-1952).

Bidu Sayão

She was born Balduína de Oliveira Sayão to a cultured family in Botafogo, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Her father passed away when she was five years old and her mother struggled to support her daughter's costly pursuit of a singing career. At the age of only eighteen, the gifted Bidu Sayão made her major opera debut in Rio de Janeiro. Her acclaimed performance led to an opportunity to study in Europe, first in Romania then in Nice, France with the renowned Polish tenor and tutor, Jean de Reszke. During the mid 1920s and early 1930s, she performed in Rome, Buenos Aires, Paris, France and in her native Brazil. While at the "Teatro Constanzi" in Rome she met impresario Walter Mocchi (1870-1955). After his wife, soprano Emma Carelli, passed away in 1928 the two became romantically involved and were married. However, it did not last and in 1935 Sayão married a second time to the Italian baritone, Giuseppe Danise (1883-1963).

In 1930, she debuted at the Teatro alla Scala, in Milan, and in the next year she sang a successful Juliette, in Gounod's Roméo e Juliette, at the Paris Opera. In the same year, she gained a great success with her debut at tbe Opéra Comique as Lakmé. Since then, she became one of the leading lyric coloratura sopranos in Europe, especially in Italy and France. Her repertoire included Lucia di Lammermoor, Amina in La Sonnambula, Elvira in I Puritani, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and Cecilia in Il Guarany, among other roles.

A star at the Metropolitan Opera

In 1936 Bidu Sayão made her debut in the United States at Carnegie Hall in New York City singing a work by Debussy. Her performance was under an orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini who would become her greatest supporter and lifelong friend. In early 1937, she sang her first performance at the Metropolitan Opera as Manon, replacing the Spanish soprano Lucrezia Bori. The critics, including the New York Times, raved about her performance and within a few weeks she was given the lead role in La Traviata, followed soon thereafter by her first role in La Bohème. She contributed a lot to the Mozart revival at the Metropolitan Opera and was the leading Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro of her generation.

At a time when most would have expected her to be welcomed home in Brazil as a hero, she had a bad experience on stage that left her forever bitter. However, despite this, after her February, 1938 performance at the White House, she declined President President Franklin Roosevelt's suggestion she obtain American citizenship. As the favorite singer of Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa Lobos, she had an artistic partnership that lasted many years and made a number of recordings of his compositions, including her famous recording of the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5.

Bidu Sayão and her husband Giuseppe Danise purchased on an oceanfront property in Lincolnville, Maine. After fifteen years with the Metropolitan Opera, she gave her last performance in 1952, choosing early retirement while still at the top of her form. For the next two years she was a guest performer throughout the U.S. but in 1957 retired fully from performing in public and two years later made her final recording.

Her husband passed away in 1963 and she lived a quiet life at her home in Maine. She returned to visit Brazil a final time in 1995, for a tribute to her during the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, and died a few years later at the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine. Cremated, her ashes were scattered across the Bay in front of her home.

Although Brazilians were always strong patrons of the opera, at the time Bidu Sayão was struggling to build her career with only limited financial means there was little in the way of government assistance for aspiring singers and that lack of support was something she spoke out about throughout her life. Following her last visit to her homeland, the government prepared plans to honor her memory and in 2000, established the Bidu Sayão International Vocal Competition to promote Brazilian operatic talent through a world-class competition.

Bidu Sayão's portrait hangs in the lobby at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Bidu Sayão