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Anita Cerquetti, Opera Fill-In Who Soared, Dies at 83


Her rise to fame was dramatic. Miss Cerquetti stepped in for Maria Callas in Rome in 1958, but her fame was relatively short-lived. Anita Cerquetti (13 April 1931 – 11 October 2014) was an Italian dramatic soprano who had a short career in the 1950s. Cerquetti was born in Montecosaro, near Macerata, Italy. She originally studied violin and trained eight years with Luigi Mori. After a mere year of vocal study at the Conservatory of Perugia, she made her operatic debut in Spoleto in 1951 as Aida. She sang all over Italy, notably in Florence as Noraime in Les Abencérages under Carlo Maria Giulini in 1956,in the Italian version "Gli Abencerragi", and as Elvira in Ernani under Dimitri Mitropoulos in 1957. Her Teatro alla Scala debut was in 1958 as Abigaille in Nabucco. She also sang on RAI in a wide variety of roles, such as Elcia in Mosè in Egitto, Mathilde in Guglielmo Tell and Elena in I vespri siciliani.
 WIKIPEDIA Cerquetti made headlines in January 1958 when she replaced "in extremis" the ailing Maria Callas in Norma, at the Rome Opera House. She was already singing the role at the San Carlo in Naples. She commuted between the two cities to honor both engagements for several weeks. This "tour de force" won her great acclaim, but had serious effects on her health. Shortly afterward she started withdrawing little by little from the stage until her complete retirement in 1961, aged only 30.