Aprile Millo

Aprile Millo (born April 14, 1958) is an American lirico spinto soprano of Italian and Irish ancestry, best known for her roles in the works of Giuseppe Verdi.

Background and early career

Aprile Millo was born in New York City, the daughter of tenor Giovanni Millo and Margherita Girosi. Millo took an early interest in music, and after graduating Hollywood High School in 1976 she was invited to join the San Diego Opera Center as an apprentice. Shortly thereafter a number of singing prizes were awarded to Millo including the Geraldine Farrar Award, the Montserrat Caballé Bernabe Merti Special Verdi Prize Award in Barcelona, and first prize in the Concorso Internazionale di Voci Verdiane in Bussetto, Italy. Following her return to the United States, Millo was hired by the Utah Opera to make her professional stage debut as "Aida" in 1980 and she followed with Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" in early 1981.

In 1981 Aprile Millo went to New York and auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera at 22, and was asked to become a member of the Met’s Young Artist Program, as well as to cover leading roles.

In 1983, Millo made her European debut on November 14th in Karlsruhe, Germany singing Aida, and then a month later made her La Scala debut, replacing soprano Mirella Freni as Elvira in Verdi's "Ernani" as well as her regularly scheduled debut at La Scala. Millo made her New York debut with Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York in November of 1984, singing Matilde in Rossini's "William Tell."

On December 3, 1984, Millo made her Metropolitan Opera debut in dramatic fashion replacing an ailing soprano as Amelia in Verdi’s "Simon Boccanegra" with James Levine on the podium. The critics praised Millo’s performance. "A New Verdi Star," the New York Times proclaimed.

The next year, 1985, Millo took the Richard Tucker Prize, a major award for classical singers. In 1986 Millo was one of four, a winner in each vocal category, soprano,mezzo,baritone and bass, to receive the coveted Maria Callas Foundation Award.

Aprile Millo studied voice exclusively with her parents until 1981 when she came to the Metropolitan Opera. She worked with Rita Patane and David Stivender. Millo has worked with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf who took her to Herbert Von Karajan, and with mentors Renata Tebaldi, Zinka Milanov and Licia Albanese.

Career highlights

In 1986 Aprile Millo made her Carnegie Hall debut with Verdi’s "I Lombardi alla prima crociata" with tenor Carlo Bergonzi and Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York. In the intervening years, she has sung over 160 performances of 15 different roles at the Metropolitan Opera, including Leonora in "Il trovatore", Aida, Tosca, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, and Amelia in "Un ballo in maschera".

Millo's debut recording in 1986 was "Presenting Aprile Millo," with the London Symphony and Giuseppe Patanè. She has recorded several Verdi operas with James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera for Sony Classical, including "Aida", "Il Trovatore," "Luisa Miller," and "Don Carlo." In 1989, she opened the Metropolitan Opera season starring as Aida opposite Plácido Domingo. The performance was recorded live for telecast and DVD release, which won an Emmy. (A CD studio recording was made, with mostly the same singers, the year after.) Her 1991 performance of "Un ballo in maschera", with Luciano Pavarotti, was released on CD and DVD. Millo toured with the Metropolitan Opera to Japan in 1988 and 1993, returning in 1989, 1990 and 1991 for solo recitals.

Millo debuted in Munich in the opera "La Forza del Destino" in 1992. She appeared as Griselda for the Metropolitan Opera's first-ever performance of Verdi's "I Lombardi", again with Pavarotti and Levine, in late 1993.

A car accident in Torino briefly sidelined Millo and forced her to cancel "Caterina Cornaro" in New York; she returned to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in 1995 and 1996, playing Amelia ("Simon Boccanegra") and Desdemona ("Otello"), opposite Plácido Domingo. That same year, she performed Maddalena in "Andrea Chenier", with Luciano Pavarotti in his debut in the title role. She reprised the role of Maddalena in 2002, with Domingo; and in 2007, with Ben Heppner.

In 1997, Millo sang her first Tosca at the Teatro Licieu, Barcelona, followed by performances of that opera at La Scala and at the Met. Other Metropolitan Opera performances include "Mefistofele" (1999-2000) and Gioconda in "La Gioconda" (2006). Millo has also performed several roles with the Opera Orchestra of New York: the title role of "Adriana Lecouvreur" (2004), Gioconda (2005), and Minnie in "La Fanciulla del West" (2005). In 2005, Millo also appeared in the neglected verismo opera "Zaza", which had not been performed in New York since 1927, for Teatro Grattacielo.

Millo has performed in the world's opera houses, including Frankfurt, Barcelona, Parma, Rome, Bologna, Torino, the Arena of Verona, The Baths of Caracalla, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, Paris, Orange, Moscow, Seville, Bilbao, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Santiago, Colon - Buenos Aires and La Scala, Milan.

Millo writes her own blog, called [http://aprilemillo.wordpress.com/ Operavision] .

Critical reception

Millo is noted for the beauty of her voice and her nuanced interpretation. On April 4, 1986, Donal Henahan wrote in the New York times of Millo's performance in "Don Carlo": "Miss Millo sounds more and more like the Verdi soprano we’ve been waiting for.” Later in 1986 (June 18), reviewing a Metropolitan Opera production of "Aida" in Central Park, Mr. Rockwell wrote, "Miss Millo has a real Verdi sound...her darkly yet delicately colored lower voice, full of urgency in the phrasing, and her overall mastery of this role from a technical and interpretive standpoint, are already very moving. Her performance reached its high point just where it must, in the third act, when Aida grows from a supplicating ingenue into a woman torn by her conflicts. With singing like this, nothing could dull the intensity of Verdi’s drama. The concert formality, the populist setting, the amplification, all fell away in the face of real operatic drama embodied in song. If Mr. Domingo and Mr. Pavarotti can match that in the next two parks openers, the Met and its fans will be fortunate indeed."

Roles and discography

References

*Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), "The Oxford Dictionary of Opera", 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5


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