Giulietta Simionato
 
"Giulietta Simionato was born in Forlì, on May 12, 1910 and began singing at school with the nuns. She took lessons with the local bandmaster at Rovigo. Her voice was already placed and the vocal agility was natural. He taught her how to take advantage of what God had given her. 

She later moved to Padova to continue her studies with Maestro Palumbo. She earned her first few lire as a singer with the role of Maddalena in Rigoletto at Padova and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, which she sang in Montagnana. In 1933 she won the first competition launched by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino which led only to her being offered five thousand lire and a tiny role in Pizzetti’s L’Orséolo. 

After the competition, Tullio Serafin asked Giulietta Simionato to sit for a La Scala audition but her mezzo voice was found still immature. She was advised to continue her studies and to sit for another audition in two years time." 

Link: http://www.operavivra.com/artists/mezzo-sopranos/giulietta-simionato/