Newsletter of the Jussi Björling Societies of the USA & UK


Tom Hines


Book Review, Bidu, soprano


According to the author, this is the first biographical study in English of the world-renowned Brazilian soprano, Bidú Sayão, who had a storied career in opera during the l930s, 1940s, and1950s. Of considerable interest to members of the Jussi Björling Societies, this study emphasizes her collaboration with Jussi in major Metropolitan Opera productions...notably Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (1947)and Puccini’s La bohème (especially the 1948 performance). Blessed with a haunting lyric soprano voice, she specialized in bel canto roles that took her to the major operatic houses of the world and left an indelible impression on critics and audiences alike. She was, in her generation, the outstanding soprano from Brazil. At a time when voices alone were admired in operatic circles, she was also known for her superior acting talents. Luckily, we can judge this theatrical ability from the many YouTube excerpts that are still available, in particular her sensitive interpretation of “Un bel dì vedremo” from Madama Butterfly. This biography presents a fact-based evaluation of Sayão’s career and personal life, leaning heavily on performance reviews, especially those of Jussi and Bidú’s common appearances, a discography of Bidú’s known recordings and concerts, a list of her performances at the Metropolitan, Rio de Janeiro, and San Francisco operas together with an ample bibliography crafted for audiophiles and scholars alike. Although the author is Brazilian by birth, the book is written in flawless English and contains numerous illustrations, photos, and other iconographic details that give it an intimate tone.

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