Licia Albanese's son confirmed that she died just past her 105th birthday.
The previous April, she had sung Cio-Cio-San’s aria “Un Bel Di” at the farewell gala at the old Met. At aria’s end, she knelt, kissed her hand and touched it to the stage.
After the opera house was torn down, The Times reported in 1997, Miss Albanese could be seen on some fine days standing amid the rubble, dressed, as if in mourning weeds, in her Butterfly kimono.
In September 1966, when the Metropolitan Opera moved from its storied old home at 39th Street and Broadway to its new one at Lincoln Center, Miss Albanese did not come along: She had left the company shortly before in a dispute with the Met’s imperious general manager, Rudolf Bing, who she felt was underusing her.
But, good things come to those who wait: Harold Schoenberg wrote in his NYT review of Bing's farewell gala in April 1971:
The evening started off with a wallop. James Levine, who will be the Met's principal conductor, led the national anthem. In the last measure there came, from the second tier of boxes, an awesome pair of B flats. The were the loudest notes delivered all night, and were sung by Licia Albanese, who was a Metropolitan idol in the 1940's.
Riposa in pace, Signora Albanese.