Catherine Malfitano (born 18 April 1948) is an American operatic soprano. She is generally considered to be one of America’s leading drammatic sopranos. Her vocal versatility, physical grace and dramatic abilities make her a sought-after performer in opera houses and concert halls.
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 the Manhattan School of Music, graduating in 1971.
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, 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. In 1978, Malfitano achieved wider recognition in a telecast of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Saint of Bleecker Street from NYCO, playing Annina.
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 Chatelet 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.
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. She was also fully naked as 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. Malfitano has also directed operas including Madama Butterfly at Central City Opera in 2005 and The Saint of Bleecker Street in 2007.
She is currently a member of the voice faculty at Manhattan School of Music.