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Gabriela Besanzoni

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Gabriella Besanzoni studied at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome where she was taught by Alessandro Maggi and Ibilda Brizzi. She made her debut at Viterbo in 1911 as Adalgisa. Because of her expansive middle register and rich low tones she decided to restudy and appeared as a mezzo-soprano at the Teatro Costanzi Rome in 1913 (Ulrica). She was very successful at La Scala, as Orfeo and Amneris, and in 1932 as Carmen and Mignon. In the 1910s and ‘20s Besanzoni was a star of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and other South American opera houses.

Her roles included Dalila, Carmen, Amneris, Lola, La Cieca, Preziosilla, Marina, Leonora in La Favorita, Mignon, Adalgisa, Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri, not to forget the roles in the first performances of Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini and Marinuzzi’s Jacquerie. She returned to sing at the Colón until 1935. The artist also appeared at the Metropolitan opposite Caruso in the season 1919/20. She also made guest appearances at the opera houses of Chicago, Havana and Berlin.

Carmen was the role that brought her fame and it was this part she chose for her farewell performance at the Terme di Caracalle in Rome (1939). After her retirement she dedicated herself to teaching.

In the 1910s and ‘20s, Besanzoni was a star of many opera houses worldwide, like the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the 1910s and ‘20s, Besanzoni was a star of many opera houses worldwide, like the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gabriela Besanzoni and Henrique Lage
Gabriella and her husband Henrique Lage
Gabriela Besanzoni and Enrico Caruso
Besanzoni and Enrico Caruso
Gabriella Besanzoni as Carmen
Gabriella Besanzoni as Carmen
Brazilian documentary about Gabriella and his husband, Henrique Lage

Gabriella and her husband, the Brazilian entrepreneur Henrique Lage, owned at least four Isotta-Fraschini, three of them known: a 1925 Castagna body Cabriolet d'Orsay Tipo 8A, a 1926 Castagna tourer Tipo 8A SS and a 1927 8A SS roadster.

The cars of Gabriella Besanzoni exposed in 2006 Brazil Classics Fiat Show at Araxá, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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The seventh bi-annual Veteran Car Club of Brazil national meet was held in the resort town of Araxa at the Ouro Minas Grand Hotel on the week-end of June 17, 2006.

In magnificent, luxurious art deco sorroundings, some of the best cars of Brazilian collectors were exhibited. Besides a remarkable display, additional activities included a modest flea market, an auction, book launches, concours d'elegance, car parade, Italian night and a typical "mineira", Brazilian dinner party closed the social gathering.

The Brazilian National Meet was sponsored by Fiat, celebrating it's 30 years of car production in Brazil and the fiftiest anniversary of local Brazilian auto industry. Fiat took the opportunity to launch it's new tetrafuel running on gasoline, regular and premium, methanol and natural gas, and a new electric Palio car.

Best of show was a 1939 Cadillac V16 coupe of Antonio Wagner, already a a Classic Car Club of America award winner.


Perhaps the highlight of the Brazilian show was the presence of three Isotta Fraschini of the four originally owned by Italian opera singer, Gabriella Besanzoni. Famous for her roles in Bizet's Carmen with Enrico Caruso, Gabriella Besanzoni married Brazilian entrepreneur Henrique Lage in 1925 and moved to Rio de Janeiro were they lived in a magnificente estate, today a city park, right under the statue of Christ, the Redeemer and the Corcovado mountain. The couple owned at least four Isotta-Fraschini. Of these, a 1925 Castagna body Cabriolet d'Orsay (full convertible town car) 8 A, a 1926 Cesare Sala tourer 8 A SS and another 8 A SS Spyder Sport Castagna, currently undergoing restoration. Three of the only four Isotta-Fraschini still in existance in Brazil were shown. The Gabriella Besanzoni cars were reunited for the first time in almost 80 years. The owners of the the roadster under restoration received a special award for their effort in bringing this Isotta-Fraschini to the National Meet.

Gabriella and Henrique Lage's home in Rio de Janeiro
Parque Lage
Gabriella and Henrique Lage's home in Rio de Janeiro
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