Catherine Malfitano

Catherine Malfitano (born 18 April 1948) is an American operatic soprano and opera director. Malfitano was born in New York City, the daughter of a ballet dancer mother, Maria Maslova, and a violinist father, Joseph Malfitano. She attended the High School of Music and Art and studied at the Frank Corsaro Studio and Manhattan School of Music, graduating in 1971. She often mentions that she was rejected from The Juilliard School.[1][2]

Operatic career

Malfitano made her professional singing debut in 1972 at the Central City Opera playing the role of Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff. She soon appeared with Minnesota Opera, where she sang in the world premiere of Conrad Susa's Transformations and, in 1974 at New York City Opera, in La bohème, as Mimi. She then appeared with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1975) and at the Royal Opera House (1976) and in other major European opera houses 1974 Susanna in a new production of Le nozze di Figaro at The Holland Festival, 1976 Servilia in a new production of La Clemenza di Tito at The Salzburg Festibal. In 1978, Malfitano achieved wider recognition in a telecast of Gian Carlo Menotti's The Saint of Bleecker Street from NYCO, playing Annina.,[3] as well as Rose in Kurt Weill's Street Scene on Live from Lincoln Center in 1979.

Since then, Malfitano has sung at the major opera houses throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Royal Opera House in London, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, Grand Théâtre de Genève in Geneva, Teatro Comunale in Florence, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Berlin State Opera, Wiener Staatsoper in Vienna, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Paris Opéra, Hamburgische Staatsoper in Hamburg, De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam as well as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, the Houston Grand Opera and the Salzburg Festival.[4]

One of Malfitano's best-known roles is the title role in the opera Tosca, for which she won an Emmy Award in 1992, performing opposite Plácido Domingo as Mario Cavaradossi and Ruggero Raimondi as Scarpia. The opera was broadcast live from the actual Roman settings of the opera and viewed by viewers worldwide. She is also associated with the title role in Richard Strauss's Salome, notably for performing the "Dance of the Seven Veils" ending the dance completely nude, a rarity in opera.[5] She was also Jenny in Kurt Weill's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny).

Throughout her career, Malfitano has championed the music of American composers, including Carlisle Floyd, William Bolcom, Conrad Susa and Thomas Pasatieri.[3]

In 2005, Malfitano started a second career as an opera director, with a Madama Butterfly for Central City Opera (the company with which she made her professional singing debut in 1972). Since then, she has created productions for La Monnaie, Florida Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, San Francisco Opera's Merola programme, English National Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Canadian Opera Company.[6]

She is currently a member of the voice faculty at Manhattan School of Music along with Cynthia Hoffmann, Edith Bers, Marlena Malas, and others.


She has sung over 70 roles throughout her career and continues to add more in her repertoire. Her repertory includes:

Composer Opera Role(s)
Richard Strauss Salome Salome
Claudio Monteverdi L'incoronazione di Poppea Poppea
Francesco Cavalli L'Ormindo Erisbe
Gian Carlo Menotti The Saint of Bleecker Street Annina
Christoph Willibald Gluck Orfeo ed Euridice Euridice
Kurt Weill Die Dreigroschenoper Polly Peachum
Street Scene Anna Maurrant and Rose
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny Jenny Smith
Gaetano Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor Lucia
Engelbert Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel Gretel
Ludwig van Beethoven Fidelio Marzelline and Leonore
Francis Poulenc Les Mamelles de Tirésias Thérèse
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail Konstanze
La clemenza di Tito Servillia
Le nozze di Figaro Susanna
Don Giovanni Zerlina and Donna Elvira
Samuel Barber Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra
Dmitri Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District Katerina Lvovna Izmailova
Gioachino Rossini Il Turco in Italia Fiorilla
Leoš Janáček The Makropulos Affair Emilia Marty
Jenůfa Kostelnička Buryjovka
Jacques Offenbach Les Contes d'Hoffmann The three leading female roles (Olympia, Antonia, Giuletta)
Giacomo Puccini Il tabarro Giorgetta
Suor Angelica Sister Angelica
Gianni Schicchi Lauretta
Tosca Floria Tosca
La bohème Mimi
Madama Butterfly Cio-Cio-San
Jules Massenet Manon Manon
Giuseppe Verdi Macbeth Lady Macbeth
La traviata Violetta Valery
Stiffelio Lina
William Bolcom A View from the Bridge Beatrice
Alban Berg Lulu Lulu
Charles Gounod Romeo et Juliette Juliette

Selected discography


External audio
You may hear Catherine Maltifano as Salome in Richard Strausss opera Salome, Op. 54 with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi and Bryn Terfel in 1995 Here on


  • Blue Moon Cat: Catherine Malfitano Live at Joe's Pub, Video Arts International, 2001.
  • Songs My Father Taught Me, Video Arts International, 2002.


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