Born in Chiusavecchia d’Imperia, she studied at the Conservatory “Santa Cecilia” in Rome, where she earned the diploma in voice. In 1973, she won the Toti Dal Monte competition and debuted as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. Her interpretation, active until the 2005/06 season at the Teatro alla Scala, marks a legacy in the history of belcanto that will be difficult to overcome. It has been unanimously recognized by the public and by critics in the most important theaters of the world.
In 1979, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in the part of Gilda in Rigoletto where she performed for many years with great success. In addition to Rigoletto, she performed in Cosi fan tutte, Falstaff, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
She was a much appreciated performer at the Royal Opera House-Covent Garden in London, performing in The Magic Flute, Rigoletto, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail; and playing the part of Desdemona in Rossini’s Othello.
In 1981, on the stage at New York’s Carnegie Hall she played Lakmé; in 1983 she was Teresa in Benvenuto Cellini by Berlioz; and in the years following, she performed as Juliet in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Elvira in I Puritani, and Adelia in the eponymous opera by Donizetti.
Her vast and comprehensive repertoire makes her a protagonist of critical acclaim and has won her the public’s favor, giving her an enthusiastic reception in theaters around the world. The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Lyric Opera in Chicago, the Staatsoper in Munich, the Opéra National and the Théâtre de Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, and the Tokyo Opera House are just some of the stages where she has been a primary performer.
She has also been important in the scene of the major Italian theaters and in the most prestigious musical events, notably – Teatro alla Scala, San Carlo, La Fenice, Regio a Torino, Massimo a Palermo, Regio a Parma, Opera a Roma, Comunale a Bologna, Le Muse ad Ancona, Rossini Opera Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Festival di Martina Franca, Ravenna Festival – in addition to the roles mentioned above, Mariella Devia has represented the leading female characters in the history of opera, obtaining remarks of personal excellence in each of the roles she performed.
Her interpretations of some of Mozart’s works, notably – Die Entführung aus dem Serail, The Magic Flute, Così fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo – were positively received the world over, emphasizing the extraordinary vocality of the great soprano and her interpretive prowess.
During her intense and prestigious career, Mariella Devia collaborated with some of the most influential conductors, including Riccardo Chailly, Zubin Metha, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Richard Bonynge, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, James Levine, and Georges Pretre.
In the 2006/07 season she made her debut in the role of Imogene in Il Pirata by Vincenzo Bellini. Her bel canto repertoire has been enriched over time with rare and emblematic Donizetti characters, such as Lucrezia Borgia, Maria Stuarda, and Anna Bolena. In November 2011, at the Opéra de Marseille she debuted in the role of Elisabetta I in Roberto Devereux, thus completing the cycle of the Donizetti queens and becoming the only soprano to have interpreted them all. In 2012, she debuted in the role of Liù in Turandot by Giacomo Puccini. In 2013, she took the stage in Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, performing continuously with enormous success. Her philological interpretation revealed all the expressiveness of bel canto together with the dramatic intensity which envelops the original work.
Among numerous awards that she has won over the years, in 2015, she received the London International Award for best soprano.
Her discography includes numerous recordings and several DVDs. Her noteworthy CDs include: Arie da opere (Bongiovanni), La sonnambula (New Era), Lucia di Lammermoor (Fonè 1996 and Dynamic 2008), Linda di Chamounix (Teldec), Lodoïska (Sony), Cantata per Pio IX and La Morte di Dido (Decca), Adelaide di Borgogna (Warner Fonit), I Puritani (New Era), La traviata (Bongiovanni), Adelia (critical edition, Ricordi), Petite Messe Solennelle (Fonè), and Lucrezia Borgia (Bongiovanni). She recorded the Complete Chamber Songs by Giuseppe Verdi for the Stradivarius editions in 2000 together with Sergej Larin and Michele Pertusi. Her noteworthy DVDs include: Marin Faliero, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Fille du Régiment, Maria Stuarda, and two editions of Roberto Devereux (one of the Teatro Real of Madrid, and the other of the Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa).