Elena Nicolai (Stoyanka Savova Nikolova)
Despite her Bulgarian birth and original name, Elena Nicolai, resident in Italy from the late 1920s, was one of the most important opera stars in Italy during the period of approximately 1932 through 1963. An "Italian" mezzo-soprano of fiery temperament and with exciting top notes, she excelled in the Verdi repertoire, but was also famous in operas running from Monteverdi through Mascagni. She appeared at La Scala from 1932 until at least 1952. Her many recordings include complete operas made during the 1950s on the H.M.V. Read more... ,Boris Christoff. Nicolai's acting abilities on the opera stage were such that when she retired from singing in 1963 she then spent many years as a "legitimate" actress and, in the earliest of those years, 1963 - 1968, she appeared in seven films, the first of which was directed by the great Vittorio De Sica.