Lisa Della Casa, 93, who swept up crowds at opera houses of the last century with an elegant and radiant style that established her as one of the finest sopranos of her generation, died Monday in the northern Swiss town of Muensterlingen.
After more than 400 performances at the Vienna State Opera, where her interpretations of many great roles, particularly those from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Strauss, won her wide acclaim and appreciation, Ms. Della Casa left the opera world in 1974, apparently weary of the music business.
Ms. Della Casa was born near the Swiss capital, Bern, in 1919 and later trained in Zurich. Her first performance, during World War II, came as Puccini's Madame Butterfly at the Solothurn-Biel Municipal Theater. She would go on to perform on many of the world's great opera stages including the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, and La Scala. In 1953, she debuted at the Met as Countess Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.
She became known as a specialist in Mozart and Strauss, singing regularly in Europe and the United States.
She retired to her castle along Lake Constance in northern Switzerland, where she lived with her husband, journalist and violinist Dragan Debeljevic, and their daughter, Vesna. - AP