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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Luiza Todi

b. 1753, Setúbal, Portugal; d. 1833, Lisbon

The daughter of a musical writer, Luiza (Luisa) Todi was a popular mezzo-soprano who began her stage career in Lisbon as an actress. Making her theatrical debut in 1767/68 in Molière’s comedy Tartuffe (1664), she met Francesco Saverio Todi, an Italian violinist, whom she married in 1769. Following her husband’s advice, she began taking singing lessons and in 1770 made her operatic debut in a production of Giuseppe Scolari’s Il viaggiatore ridicolo. With her vocal capability, emotional interpretation of lyrics, clear diction, and linguistic proficiency—she spoke French, English, Italian, German, and Portuguese—Todi was in demand all over Europe, particularly in Venice, Paris, and Saint Petersburg, where she was a favored performer of Catherine the Great. In 1783, Todi was named the “Nation’s Singer” of Portugal, and the Italian opera season of 1790/91 was celebrated as “Todi’s Year.” Her last major engagement was in Naples in 1797, after which she retired to Lisbon.