Elena Teodorini, Romanian mezzo-soprano, born in Craiova, 25 March 1857: died in Bucharest, 26 February 1926. One of the last mezzo-soprano of the 19th Century gifted with a truly original voice, mastered an exceptional wide repertory of unusual variety. Her parents Maria and Theodor Teodorini were actors.  She studied the piano and theory in Craiova and Milan with Fumagalli and singing with George Stefanescu at the Bucharest Conservatory. Also she studied singing at the Milan Conservatory with Sagiovanni and made her debut as a contralto singing Gondi in Maria di Rohan at the Teatro Municipale in Cuneo (1877). Gradually her voice changed to a mezzo-soprano of wide range. In the next two years she sang mezzo roles in Alessandria, Livorno, Pisa, and Chieti and at the Opera of Bucharest. In 1879 she made her debut at the Teatro dal Verme as Maria in La Fille du Regiment and in the same season an also sang Rachel in La Juive (probably given as L’Ebrea). At the age of 20 she made her first appearance in La Scala, Milan, as Marguerite in Faust on March 20 (1880), the first Romanian ever to sing there.  In 1881 she sang the part Valentine in Gil Ugonotti. In 1882 she appeared there in the world première of Smareglia’s Bianca da Cervia. For ten years from 1884, when she appeared, with Tamagno, at the old Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, her career flourished. She had a brilliant career, particularly at the most important Italian theatres. ‘ The Illustrated London News ‘ create a beautiful picture of Elena Teodorini’s performance on the Royal Italian Opera company at Covent Garden: Mlle Teodorini made her first appearance here on Thursday week as Valentina in ‘ Les Huguenots ‘  an arduous undertaken, considering the many first – rate artists who have sustained character. (June 12 1886, pp. 616). Also ‘The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News’, presented impressions concerning the appearance of Elena Teodorini: Mlle Teodorini’s impersonations of ‘ Valentin’  and ‘La Gioconda’ justified her high position amongst dramatic ‘ prime donne ‘(  July  24, 1886, pp 443 ).. In 1890-91 she sang again  at ‘ La Scala ‘, Gastaldon’s Mala Pasqua, based on the same Verga source as Cavalleria Rusticana. She toured throughout Europe, Africa, and South America in more than 40 operas and operettas, in several of whose premières she had participated. In 1905 she herself as a vocal teacher at Académie Lyrique in Paris. Among her pupils were the tenor Edgar Istraty and soprano Zina Brozia. In 1909 Elena Teodorini left Paris in order to reach South America, where she was going to give concerts in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. In the autumn 1909 she founded the ‘Theodorini Academy ’. It is said that one day, while driving a carriage, she accidentally met Hariclea Darclée and she asked her to patronize the academy together with Titta Ruffo.  Hariclea Darclée accepted gladly her proposal. The reason for which Elena Teodorini established the Academy in South America was because in Milan she found some talented voices, but no money and in Paris she found enough material support, but no talents. It seems that in Argentina she found what she was looking for, because she founded ‘Academia lirica Hélène Théodorini ’. The new school of voice – music was first situated in Freedom’s Street, at No. 1387 and later in Barmiente Street, at No. 2339. Of her students one can remember Jole Lancelotti, Ofelia Villafane, Ada Giribone, Luisa V.de Kühn, Inocencia de Arce, Dellia Marteneli, Maruja Orbistondo, Emilia Martin, Leticia Rossi, Delia de la Cuesta, Teresina Vitulli, Clotilda Massey de Ortiz, Carolina de Ortega, Angelica Molina Grisol, and Alcira Renée Casaglia. Her students appeared periodically in front of the public at the Concert Hall ”La Argentina” , situated in Rodriguez Pena Street, at No. 361.

In Buenos Aires (1909) were printed “Cinco Ejercicios de Solfeo Cantado para la clasas corales elementales compuestor por M-me Elena Teodorini”, which stood for her hard work and great interest. Elena Teodorini became Headmaster of the Governmental Conservatoire from Buenos Aires (1915).    In 1917 she spent 3 months in New York where she improved and guided some singers with good voices – in a letter addressed to the Romanian Academy she described herself as a “médicin des voix”. She left back for Paris in the summer 1917, because her health was pretty bad (because of the climate) and the material conditions from Argentina where also getting worse, because of the First World’s War from Europe. She returned to Rio de Janiero next year, in 1918, where she founded ‘Escola superior de canto “ Ars et Vox” ‘, in Avenida Rio Branco, at No. 90. That was the last and the most successful attempt of Elena Deodorant to lay the foundation of a modern singing course abroad. She remained in Rio de Janiero until 1922, when was 65 years old. Of her students from that school it can be mentioned: America Fontes, Bidú Sayão, Irena Baptista, Itala Cortez, Rachel Marques da Silva, Leonor de Rezende, Linda Cardenale, Nanita Lutz, Gloria Sattamini, Alvaro Caminha. On 6th of April 1922 Bidú Sayão sang Doina Oltului, a well –known Romanian song, written by Grigore Vasiliu, dressed up in a typical Romanian national costume. During the autumn of 1922, Elena Teodorini left Brazil because she missed her country a lot, and suffered because of long distance between Europe and South America, although she was satisfied with her work in Rio de Janiero: I am happy in Rio, as I have never been before, a calm happiness which suits my age, I am so loved by my students…’


Elena Teodorini remained in Paris for a month and then finally reached Bucharest. She founded in the capital of Romania ‘The Lyrical National Academy’, where she was again appointed Headmaster. Still, when her health permitted her, she undertook another trip in Brazil, the last one, where, in June 1923 organized a great festival. At that festival Bidú Sayão interpreted some Romanian songs, too.


When Teodorini retired from teaching and decided to go to Bucharest in 1924, she induced young Bidú Sayão to go with her, to be presented to Queen Marie. In Romania, Sayão made her debut, singing at Royal Pales Castle at a reception for the crown prince of Japan( who later became Emperor Hirohito) The Queen Marie presented Bidú with her signed portrait and pin decorated with her crown and regimental emblem.


She was also a leading singer in both the Italian Opera and the National Opera of Bucharest. A singer with an exceptional range , she undertook various roles in Norma, Gioconda, Gounod’s Faust, Aida, Il trovatore and Un ballo in maschera, being equally ease in the lyric and dramatic soprano, mezzo-soprano and contralto repertories; her stage presence was imbued with her passionate dramatic temperament.


The ‘Guide de l’Opéra’  (Fayard, 1995, pp 831-832). pointed out that Elena Teodorini was exceptionally gifted: Une des dernières cantatrices du XIXème siècle qui dotée d’une voix authentique de mezzo-soprano, ait chanté avec le même Bonheur les tessitures de falconet soprano, voire soprano « sfogato ». Particulièrement réputée dans Lucrèce Borgia, Gioconda, Valentina.


Elena Teodorini  passed away on February  27, 1926 in Bucharest  On  May 16, 1995 ‘Elena Teodorini Foundation ’  fixed a memorial marble plaque in Paris at Rue de Tocqueville No  25, where has been founded the   Académie Lyrique ( 1908-1909). Also the Foundation supported the reconstruction of her memorial monument at ‘Sf. Vineri’ cemetery, in Bucharest which has been destroyed during the earthquake in 1977.


Records: In 1903 she made five titles for G & T in Milan. All are great rarity.


“Teodorini: 53298 Carmen: Paradoxically, this Teodorini title is much rare than her recordings of much less popular (one would have thought) Lucrezia Borgia. Together with ‘ Parla ‘(53302) and Lucrezia (53300) it became from Bauer. I found further copies of  ‘ Parla ‘ and 53299 Lucrezia in a group of items of similar vintage in a villa in Pistoia, a small town near Florence. Artistically, the two Lucrezia recordings are almost identical, with 53300 much less common. The only example that I have seen of La Gioconda aria is on a dark-green Zonophone X-93046 (with the same matrix number as G&T 53391) from Montecucco collection.”






1. Viorel Cosma, “Elena Teodorini”, Editura Muzicala, Bucharest 1962 (in Romanian)


2. R. Celleti, “ Teodorini Elena” , Le Grandi Voci, Dizionaria Critico Biografico Dei Cantati con Discografia Operatica,   Rome 1964, 


3. Roland Mancini and Jean-Jacques Rouveroux, (orig. H. Rosenthal and J. Warrack, French édition), Guide de l’opéra, Les indispensables de la musique (Fayard, 1995). ISBN 2-213-01563-6


4. Lanfranco Rasponi, Alfred A Knopf , The Last Prima Donnas, Bidú Sayão, pp. 507,  1982. ISBN 0-394-52153-6


5. SIMPOSIUM Records, The Harold Wayne Collection, volume 4, 1077


6. SIMPOSIUM Records, The Harold Wayne Collection, volume 23, The “PARIS FONOTIPIAS”, 1182.



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