Italian mezzo-soprano. She studied in Rome, making her début (as a soprano) as Adalgisa at Viterbo in 1911. After further study she became a mezzo-soprano, singing Ulrica in Rome and appearing throughout Italy. She first sang at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, in 1918, returning there frequently; she also visited Rio de Janeiro and, in 1919, Mexico City, where she sang Ulrica, Delilah, Nancy (Martha), Carmen and Amneris, all with Dnrico Caruso as principal tenor. Engaged at the Metropolitan (1919–20), she made her début as Amneris, then sang Isabella in the Metropolitan première of L’italiana in Algeri, as well as Delilah and Preziosilla (Forza del destino) with Caruso. Besanzoni’s repertory also included Laura (La Gioconda) and Santuzza, which she sang at performances of Cavalleria rusticana conducted by Pietro Mascagni himself. At La Scala (1923–4) she sang C. W. Gluck’s Orpheus under Toscanini, and also appeared as Mignon and Carmen, the role of her farewell in 1939 at the Baths of Caracalla, Rome. Her voice was rich, powerful, smoothly produced and notably flexible.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.
A portrait by Herman Mishkin
As Mignon (?)
Gabriella Besanzoni and Charles Hackett in Rossini’s “L’Italiana in Algeri”