B1130. TOTI dal MONTE. Una Voce nel Mondo. Milano, Longanesi, 1962. 381pp. Index; Photos; DJ. (Italian Text).
“For at least 30 years people have referred familiarly to Toti Dal Monte as 'la Toti'. This is the unmistakable sign of a wide popularity such as very few singers have ever enjoyed in Italy or abroad — as unmistakable as her voice which, in the 1920s and 1930s, delighted audiences all over the world.
Echoes of past triumphs (and of some regrets) of a singer and stylist generally considered to be one of the greatest sopranos of the century are recalled in this volume of memoirs. It is based on a series of lectures given by Toti Dal Monte during a tour of Italy which stirred her audiences to renewed demonstrations of esteem and affection. Let it be said at once that the writer need not envy the singer. For the book is particularly interesting — especially the pages where 'la Toti' gives details of personalities and events of her own fascinating world of opera. Here we find opinions and assessments which are almost always valid, both historically and aesthetically speaking. The net result is not a mere chronicle but a worthy contribution to the annals of opera.
More open to question, and naturally so, are some of her judgements on her own work. An example is when she speaks warmly of 'her' Butterfly, a role which (she writes) 'suited my physique and my childlike voice ... Tito Ricordi intuitively felt that I possessed exceptional interpretative qualities for the part'. Such judgements and such 'intuitions' are debatable. Yet even such passages do not detract from the book. On the contrary they emphasize the sincerity and spontaneity which are its keynote.“
- Giorgio Gualerzi, OPERA,July, 1963
“Best known for her Cio-Cio-San, Toti Dal Monte débuted at La Scala at the age of 23 (1916) in the challenging rôle of Biancafiore from the then-new opera Francesca da Rimini by Riccardo Zandonai. She returned to La Scala in 1922 and made numerous appearances there over the next couple of decades singing a broad range of rôles. Her U.S. début took place in November, 1924, at the Chicago Civic Opera, and the following month she débuted to thundering applause at the Metropolitan Opera singing Lucia. Some might assert that her greatest legacy to opera came with her 1939 recording of Madama Butterfly, featuring Beniamino Gigli as Pinkerton. Dal Monte's Cio-Cio-San is considered by many critics the finest ever, and the recording itself one of the greatest the work has received. Cio-cio-San is a much heavier part than Dal Monte would have undertaken normally, and her interpretation is notable for its youthful-sounding freshness, which fits with the character's age. In 1939 Dal Monte also appeared in her first film, Carnevale Di Venezia.
- Robert Cummings, allmusic.com