Eugenia Burzio (20 June 1882 - 16 May 1922) was an Italian operatic soprano known for her vibrant voice and passionate style of singing. She was particularly prominent in the verismo repertoire, creating the role of Delia Terzaghi in Ruggero Leoncavallo's Goffredo Mameli as well as singing Minnie in the Italian premiere of Giacomo Puccini's La fanciulla del West but was also admired in Verdi and other 19th century repertoire. While many music critics found her interpretations imaginative and exciting, others criticized her for the unevenness of her voice and other technical shortcomings.
Burzio was born in Poirino, Piedmont. Initially, she pursued a career as a violinist but decided instead to concentrate on opera singing whilst a teenager, stating she was born in 1879 in order to study voice at the Milan Conservatory with Carolina Ferni who herself had studied with Giuditta Pasta. She made her professional début as Santuzza, in Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, at the Teatro Vittorio Emmanuel, Turin in 1899.
She went on to enjoy a highly successful career throughout her homeland as a lyric-dramatic soprano, although her ardent, larger-than-life mode of vocalism was not calculated to appeal to the taste of more conservative British and American audiences and she never sang at Covent Garden or the Metropolitan Opera. This has limited the scope of her international reputation. However she had huge successes in South America, Egypt and Russia--at St Petersburg's Aquarium Theatre.
Burzio was a magnetic actress and she became particularly associated with the music of the verismo school of composers, exemplified by Mascagni, Catalani, Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano and, to a certain extent, Puccini. She was a star performer with a fanatical following at Italy's pre-eminent opera house, La Scala, Milan, during the first two decades of the 20th century. There Burzio appeared in a wide repertoire, often under the baton of Toscanini, her roles included Gluck's Armide, Bellini's Norma, Alfano's Risurrezione, Franchetti's La Figlio di Jorio, Pacini's Saffo, Catalani's La Wally and Loreley, Aida, La Gioconda and Cavalleria Rusticana.
In addition, Burzio cut a number of frequently gripping 78-rpm gramophone recordings in Milan between 1905 and 1916. Towards the end of her career, however, she suffered from a nervous disorder and general ill-health. She made her final stage appearance in 1919, in Ponchielli's Marion Delorme. Burzio died at Milan, three years later, aged 40, of kidney failure. She is buried in the family tomb in Chieri, Piedmont.
In a newspaper interview Burzio stated "A verismo role is bound to produce a melodramatic performance and artificial elation, and it's artificial because it isn't always a musical approach and when you are young, you don't know the correct approach. This can lead to strain on the nervous system. Nervous exhaustion is more damaging to the voice than the difficulty or length of the role". (The Levik memoirs, page 117)