Adelina Patti (19 February 1843 – 27 September 1919) was a highly acclaimed 19th-century opera singer, earning huge fees at the height of her career in the music capitals of Europe and America. She first sang in public as a child in 1851 and gave her last performance before an audience in 1914. Patti remains one of the most famoussopranos in history, owing to the purity and beauty of her lyrical voice and the unmatched quality of her bel canto technique.
She was born Adela Juana Maria Patti in Madrid, the last child of tenor Salvatore Patti and soprano Caterina Barilli. Her Italian parents were working in Madrid, Spain, at the time of her birth. Because her father came from Sicily, Patti was born a subject of the King of the Two Sicilies. She later carried a French passport, as her first two husbands were French.
Adelina Patti made her operatic debut at age 16 on 24 November 1859 in the title role of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Academy of Music, New York. Then, in 1862, during an American tour, she sang John Howard Payne's Home, Sweet Home at the White House for the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and his wife, Mary Lincoln Patti's career was one of success after success. She sang not only in England and the United States, but also as far afield in mainland Europe as Russia, and in South America as well, inspiring audience frenzy and critical superlatives wherever she went. Her girlish good looks gave her an appealing stage presence, which added to her celebrity status. In her prime, Patti demanded to be paid $5000 a night, in gold, before the performance. Her contracts stipulated that her name be top-billed and printed larger than any other name in the cast. Her contracts also insisted that while she was "free to attend all rehearsals, she was not obligated to attend any".
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