|On October 5, 1995, President Clinton presented to Licia Albanese the National Medal of Honor for the Arts. She received the prestigious Handel Medallion from New York City in 2000.
On Friday evening, February 9, 1940, a rather shy, young and petite Italian soprano crossed the Japanese bridge of the Madama Butterfly set at the old Metropolitan Opera House, looking hopefully toward a new future. Following her considerable success in Italy, France, England, and Malta, Licia Albanese had been invited to make her United States debut at the Metropolitan Opera. Her success was instantaneous, and Mme. Albanese remained at the Met for 26 seasons, performing a total of 427 performances of 17 roles in 16 operas, and along the way, becoming a United States citizen. In recital, concert, and opera, she was heard throughout the country; she participated in benefits, entertained the troops, had her own weekly radio show, was a guest on other broadcasts and telecasts, and recorded frequently. She was a member of the San Francisco Opera for 20 seasons, singing more than 120 performances of 22 roles in 20 operas. In an age as video-oriented as ours, it may seem surprising that Licia Albanese appeared in the very first live telecast from the Metropolitan Opera - Verdi's Otello - opposite Ramon Vinay and Leonard Warren, conducted by Fritz Busch.
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