Nina Morgana, coloratura soprano, was born in Buffalo November 15, 1891 (this date has been verified from her birth certificate by James A. Drake; she is listed in the Grosses Sängerlexikon as being born in 1895) at 292 The Terrace. Morgana was known as Baby (or Child) Patti during her early years in Buffalo, after the famous singer Adelina Patti. She sang locally in Buffalo churches and schools from the age of four, but her performances at the Pan-American Exposition’s Venice in America site in 1901 presented her talents to a much larger audience.
Morgana auditioned for world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso during one of his concert trips to Buffalo in May 1908. After hearing Morgana sing for him at the Iroquois Hotel, Caruso wrote to Morgana that he would make arrangements for her to study with Teresa Arkel, a legendary soprano and vocal instructor. Morgana went to Italy to study with Arkel from 1909 to 1915. After a successful 1915 debut at La Scala, Morgana joined Enrico Caruso for concert tours of the United States from 1917 to 1919.
Nina Morgana sang her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1920 in the role of Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. She remained on the roster at the Metropolitan Opera House until 1935. She married Caruso’s secretary, Bruno Zirato, on June 15, 1921. Mr. Zirato later served as Assistant Manager of the New York Philharmonic and as publicity chief of the Colon Opera House in Buenos Aires. Nina Morgana died in Ithaca, N. Y. on July 8, 1986. 1
Nina Morgana (center) with other musicians at Venice in America at the Pan-American Exposition, 1901. Photo credit: Undetermined. Source: Richard. H. Barry. Snap Shots on the Midway of the Pan-Am Expo, including characteristic scenes …. Buffalo, N.Y. : Robert Allan Reid, 1901, p.98. Courtesy of James A. Drake.
Nina Morgana performing at “Venice in America.” Photo Credit: Undetermined. Source: Richard. H. Barry. Snap Shots on the Midway of the Pan-Am Expo, including characteristic scenes …. Buffalo, N.Y. : Robert Allan Reid, 1901, p.99.
Article: “Clever Child Vocalist – Baby Patti delights all who hear her.” Source: Photocopy of a 1901 Buffalo Newspaper Clipping – exact source unknown. Courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. Note: While this article reports that she was born in Palermo, Italy, most sources state that Nina Morgana was born in Buffalo.
Obituary from Buffalo News, Thursday, July 10, 1986.
Nina Morgana Zirato’s Obituary.Source: Newsclipping–Buffalo News, Thursday, July 10, 1986. Courtesy of J. Warren Perry.
Newspaper Clipping: “Caruso Told Her That She’d Be a Great Singer.” Author: Harvey Elsaesser. Source: Photocopy of scrapbook newsclipping–Buffalo Evening News, May 3, 1969. Courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
Clippings, Photos and Biography comes from UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO LIBRARIES