Morgana, coloratura soprano, was born in Buffalo November 15, 1891 (this
date has been verified from her birth certificate by James A. Drake; she
is listed in the Grosses Sängerlexikon as being born in 1895)
at 292 The Terrace. Morgana was known as Baby (or Child) Patti during her
early years in Buffalo, after the famous singer Adelina Patti. She sang
locally in Buffalo churches and schools from the age of four, but her performances
at the Pan-American Exposition's Venice in America site in 1901 presented
her talents to a much larger audience.
Portrait of Nina Morgana, ca.1902
for world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso during one of his concert trips to
Buffalo in May 1908. After hearing Morgana sing for him at the Iroquois
Hotel, Caruso wrote to Morgana that he would make arrangements for her
to study with Teresa Arkel, a legendary soprano and vocal instructor.
Morgana went to Italy to study with Arkel from 1909 to 1915. After a successful
1915 debut at La Scala, Morgana joined Enrico Caruso for concert tours
of the United States from 1917 to 1919.
Morgana (center) with other musicians at Venice in America
at the Pan-American
Photograph courtesy of James A. Drake.
Article about Nina Morgana in July 29, 1901 Buffalo newspaper. While
this article reports that she was born in Palermo, Italy, most sources
state that she was born in Buffalo. Courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
Nina Morgana, also known as "Baby Patti" or "Little
Patti" performing at Venice in America
Morgana sang her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1920 in
the role of Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto. She remained on the roster
at the Metropolitan Opera House until 1935. She married Caruso's secretary,
Bruno Zirato, on June 15, 1921. Mr. Zirato later served as Assistant Manager
of the New York Philharmonic and as publicity chief of the Colon Opera
House in Buenos Aires. Nina Morgana died in Ithaca, N. Y. on July 8, 1986.
11, 1918 program for performance by Enrico Caruso and Nina Morgana.
Article in May 3, 1969
Obituary from Buffalo News,
Thursday, July 10, 1986.
1. Drake, James A., with Nina Morgana Zirato. "Remembering Lily Pons" in Opera Quarterly, v. 15, no. 2 (Spring 1999)