Italian soprano Daniela Dessi has died after a short battle with cancer of the colon. She was just 59. She possessed one of the most beautiful voices on the opera stage today. Recently she was forced to cancel her performances of Medea at the Macerata Festival, and other summer engagements, which she announced to her fans on Facebook in late July:
Dear friends , unfortunately after a health problem I’ve been forced to cancel all my events for this summer. I’ll see you on October 8th for a big sacred concert in the Basilica in Loreto. A big hug to everybody.
Dessi was from Genoa, but lived with her partner, tenor Fabio Armiliato, in Brescia in the northern Lombardy region. It was here, in the city’s Poliambulanza hospital, that she died last night. Armiliato, who had been with the soprano since 2000, said,
A short, horrible and incomprehensible illness has taken her away in these months. The greatest opera singer of the last 20 years has gone.
The couple knew at the beginning of May that her cancer was incurable, even so Dessì insisted on participating in a charity concert in June.
Alberto Veronesi, Director of the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, said,
Her discretion accompanied her during her illness which she hid from everybody. One of Italian opera’s most versatile voices together which one of its most dramatic, yet at the same time fragile, personalities, has left us.
La Scala immediately sent out a communication:
The news of the death of Daniela Dessi elicits deep emotion from all who love opera, especially those who have worked with her. In almost 30 years of regular appearances at Teatro alla Scala, Daniela Dessi presented a vast repertoire following the natural evolution of her voice, ranging from Mozart and Rossini to Verdi, Puccini and the Verismo repertoire. Her solid technique coupled with a strong temperament and a rare interpretative sensibility has placed her among the leading figures on the international opera scene.
Soprano Cecilia Gasdia, who emerged on the international scene together with Dessì when they both participated in the first Rai Maria Callas Competition, wrote on Facebook,
Daniela is dead… I’m in tears.
Her ex-husband, tenor Giuseppe Sabbatini, with whom she had a turbulent relationship, was in regular contact with Dessì and Armiliato during her last months. He wrote,
Who “believes” says that it is God’s design and that we don’t have the capacity to understand! Who “doesn’t believe” bangs their head against the wall because they cannot accept an end so inhumane and painful… There were few of us to keep her secret: no one must know! Now she can rest in peace after so much suffering!
Her voice, together with that of Armiliato, was recently heard at the Rio Olympics where their recording of Nessun dorma accompanied Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari.
She died shortly before midnight yesterday, 20 August 2016.
Her funeral will be on Tuesday 23 August at 15.30 in Bescia’s Cathedral.