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Italian opera and ballet artists.
Giuditta Grisi. Born July 28, 1805, in Milan; died May 1, 1840, in Robecco d’Oglio, near Cremona. Mezzo-soprano.
Giuditta Grisi studied at the Milan Conservatory. After her debut in Vienna in 1826, she performed at the leading opera houses of Italy. She also toured Paris, London, and Madrid. Grisi achieved fame as an outstanding singer. Her voice was deep and rich and distinguished by lightness and purity. Her best parts included the title roles in Bellini’s Norma and in Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Semiramide, Desdemona in Rossini’s Otello, and the title role in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. In 1830, Bellini wrote the part of Romeo for her in the opera I Capuleti ed i Montecchi.
Giulia Grisi. Born July 28, 1811, in Milan; died Nov. 29, 1869, in Berlin. Sister of Giuditta Grisi.
Giulia Grisi studied voice in Bologna and Milan and made her debut in Bologna in 1829. She performed in many Italian cities. Beginning in 1834, she was a soloist at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. During this period (until 1861) she also made regular appearances on the London stage and from 1850 to 1852 performed in St. Petersburg. One of the greatest singers of the 19th century, she possessed a pure, even, and intense voice of unusually great range (she also performed mezzo-soprano roles). Her best parts included the title role in Bellini’s Norma, Ninetta and Desdemona in Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie and Otello, and the title role in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. Bellini wrote the part of Giuletta for her in the opera I Capuleti ed i Montecchi as well as the part of Alvira in I Puritani.
Carlotta Grisi. Born June 28, 1819, in Visinada, Italy; died May 20, 1899, in Saint-Jean, near Geneva. Ballerina. Cousin of Giuditta and Giulia Grisi.
Carlotta studied dance at the Milan Conservatory. In 1833 she met the dancer and choreographer J. Perrot, who was to exert a great influence on her creative work. A representative of the romantic ballet, she was the first to dance the role of Giselle in Adam’s ballet of the same name (1841). In writing its libretto, T. Gauthier took into consideration Grisi’s artistic individuality. Her dancing was distinguished by its virtuosity; her extraordinary control allowed her to execute the most difficult movements and leaps with total ease. In 1845 she danced in Le Pas de Quatre to music by C. Pugni together with M. Taglioni, L. Grahn, and F. Cerrito. Among her other parts were the title roles in Burgmüller’s La Péri, Pugni’s La Esmeralda, and Deldevez’ Paquita. She performed in Russia in 1849–50.
REFERENCESDavidson, G. Opera Biographies. London, 1955.
Slonimskii, Iu. “Zhizel’ ”; Etiudy. Leningrad, 1969.
Lifar, S. Carlotta Grisi. Paris, 1941.