Bidú Sayão & Elena Teodorini


Bidú Sayão ( originally Balduina de Oliveira Sayão ) attactive soprano, was born in Rio de Janiero on May 11, 1902, to Pedro de Oloveira and Maria José Costa Sayão. Both parents were of Brazilian birth. Her father was a successful babana planter. “As a little girl”, she once recalled . “I was mad about theater. I had an uncler, a physician, who also had a passion for arts. He was a talented verse-maker and composer. He used to write monologues for me which I would recite at performances for charities.“

The death of her father, when she was not yet five, was a traumatic experience. She became an unruly child. But her mother, a singer, did her best to control her, and to direct her to music. The first attempts to teach her the piano were unsuccessful. But she was more amendable to her uncle’s suggestion that she be directed to her theater. This was vigorously rejected by the mother who considered acting a dishonorable profession. But singing was something the mother could encourage. When she was about thirteen, Bidú began studying voice with Hélèna Théodorini, three times a week, for four years.   

“ Stubborn and spoiled, I insisted on having the best teacher available. but Elena Teodorini, the great Rumanian soprano who had sung at La Scala and was settled in Rio giving lessons, she had no intention of taking me as a pupil. I was too young, in the first place, and the voice much too small. I pleaded and pleaded, and managed to make myself such a nuisance that I broke down her resistance and she accepted me . eventually she became impressed by my willpower and discipline. I soon realized that there was no way to become a singer without a solid musical background, and so I trained in all areas. By my third year it was obvious that I was a coloratura; I hit a G with facility, and the picchettati came without effort.

Than, suddenly , a major problem arose. Madame Teodorini had decided that the time had come for her to return to her native Rumania, and I would not hear of changing teacher. So, after many discussions at home, I followed her Rumania , where dreams began to come true. The stunning Queen Marie was an indefatigable patroness of music and, after hearing me, chose me to be soloist with the orchestra at a concert given in the palace for the official visit of Hirohito, at that time crown price of Japan. Despite being extremely nervous, I made out very well”.

From Romania, Sayão went on to France where she sang for Jean de Reszke in Vichy and then studied with him at this home in Nice from 1923 to 1925.


 The Last Prima Donnas, by Lanfranco Rasponi, Alfred A Knopf, Bidú Sayão, pp. 507,  1982. ISBN 0-394-52153-6