Olimpia Boronat was an Italian coloratura soprano of Spanish origin who belongs to a very old school tradition, whose work, by some miracle, was captured on recordings while she still sang well. Born in either 1859 or 1867 (the later date appears more likely), Boronat's singing as a young girl so moved Margherita of Savoy, then Queen consort of Italy, to send Boronat to the Milan Conservatory; Milanese composer and singer Franco Leoni has been suggested as a teacher Boronat may have studied voice with. Boronat made her debut in Italy around 1886, and although Boronat sang, with one apparent interruption, from that time until 1914, she never appeared in any of the major Western opera houses, singing only in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and South and Central America. Boronat's biggest success was at the Imperial opera in St. Petersburg and in Poland, where she appeared as a star of the first rank. She was known to Adelina Patti, who is said to have suggested that Boronat sing Alyabyev's song Solovei (The Nightingale); a good idea as it became Boronat's main showpiece.
In 1893, Boronat married the Polish aristocrat Count Rzewuski and retired from active performance, but resumed her singing career around 1901. She made 21 surviving recordings for the Gramophone and Typewriter Co.'s Fred Gaisberg, the first 10 made in St. Petersburg in 1904 and the remaining 10 (plus two alternates) during a holiday spent in Milan in 1908. Boronat preferred Bellini, Donizetti, Gounod, Meyerbeer, and earlier Verdi operas; she never sang Wagner and singing the role of Mimi in La bohème was as far as she ventured into the world of verismo. The recordings present an unspoiled coloratura voice similar to Patti's yet stronger, which gives us a clear-cut idea of what the nineteenth century vocal approach to operas such as La sonnambula and Martha may have sounded like. Boronat's records were expensive even when new, selling at $3 apiece, and original copies of them trade at handsome sums in the collector's market. After her retirement in 1914, Boronat founded a singing school in Warsaw, and it was still in operation when she died from complications of diabetes some 20 years later.