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Stoyanka Savova Nikolova (Bulgarian: Стоянка Савова Николова), best known by her stage name Elena Nicolai (Bulgarian: Елена Николай) (24 January 1905 – 23 October 1993), was a Bulgarian operatic mezzo-soprano.
Early Life and training
Nicolai was born in the village of Tzerovo, Pazardzhik, Bulgaria. She spent her childhood in another Bulgarian town, Panagurishte. At the age of 19, she moved to Milan to study opera, first with Vincenzo Pintorno and later with Ettore Pozzoli.
She made her operatic debut as Maddalena in Verdi's Rigoletto in 1932. She spent 20 seasons as a leading mezzo-soprano at Milan's Teatro alla Scala. After her retirement from opera, she became an actress and had a short film career, starring in seven movies in the period between 1963-68.
She recorded complete operas for RAI and EMI: Eboli in Don Carlos with Antonietta Stella, Boris Christoff, and Tito Gobbi stands out among the others, which include the Grand Vestale in La vestale and Cuniza in Oberto, both with Maria Vitale, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana with Mario del Monaco, the Principessa in Adriana Lecouvreur with Mafalda Favero, and Preziosilla in La forza del destino with Callas. She sang Wagnerian roles, including Brünnhilde in 'Die Walküre' at the Verona Arena.
- Annina, Der Rosenkavalier
- Laura, La Gioconda (opera)
- Nefte, Il figliuol prodigo (List of operas by Ponchielli)
- Principessa di Bouillon, Adriana (opera)
- Rubria, Nerone (Boito)
- Ortrud, Lohengrin (opera)
- Dalila, Samson and Delilah (opera)
- Brunnhilde, Die Walkure
- Amneris, Aida
- Eboli, Don Carlo
- Azucena, Il Trovatore
- Adalgisa, Norma
- Leonora, La Favorita
- Bizet, Carmen
- Brangaene, Tristan und Isolde
- Santuzza, Cavalleria Rusticana
- Fedora, Fedora
- Klytaemnestra, Elektra
- Monteverdi - L'Orfeo (Silvia, 1939) conducted by Ferrucio Calusio, Italian HMV
- Cilea - Adriana Lecouvreur (Principessa di Bouillon, 1949) conducted by Federico Del Cupolo, Colosseum
- Mascagni - Cavalleria rusticana (Santuzza, 1953) conducted by Franco Ghione, Decca
- Verdi - Don Carlo (Principessa d'Eboli, 1954) conducted by Gabriele Santini, HMV/EMI
- Verdi - La forza del destino (Preziosilla, 1954) conducted by Tullio Serafin, Columbia/EMI
- Il boom, directed by Vittorio De Sica (1963)
- La mia signora (episode "I miei cari," directed by Mauro Bolognini) (1964)
- Sedotti e bidonati, directed by Giorgio Bianchi (1964)
- Gli amanti latini (episode "L'irreparabile," directed by Mario Costa) (1965)
- I nostri mariti (episode "Il marito di Roberta," directed by Luigi Filippo D'Amico) (1966)
- Quando dico che ti amo, directed by Giorgio Bianchi (1967)
- Il medico della mutua, directed by Luigi Zampa (1968)
- Nicolai, Elena (1993). La mia vita fra i grandi del melodramma. Parma: Azzali. p. 200.
- Her page on the Stars of Bulgarian Opera site with mp3 audio clips of selected arias
- Elena Nicolai at IMDb
- Elena Nicolai discography at Discogs