Soprano Anna Maria Strada was born in Bergamo (date not known). Little is known of her early years. She performed in Venice (in Vivaldi’s 1720 opera La verità in cimento), Milan, and Livorno. Early in her career she married her manager and librettist Aurelio del Pò. She moved to London in 1729 to sing for Handel at Cannons, Little Stanmore, and made her debut as Adelaida in Lotario and performed as prima donna in all his operas and oratorios until 1737. Handel created numerous roles for her and she remained loyal when many of his singers defected to the rival Opera of the Nobility in 1733.
The start of her London career was not without obstacles. Charles Burney described her as a coarse singer who ‘had so little of a Venus in her appearance, that she was usually called the Pig’. In 1738 she was called to Breda to sing for the Princess of Orange. She subsequently returned to Italy, where she performed at Naples and Turin before her retirement to Bergamo. There she died in 1741. Dutch immigrant Jan [John] Verelst painted Strada’s portrait around 1732, depicting the singer seated at a harpsichord, wearing a white dress, and holding in her right hand a sheet of music. The portrait is held by the Foundling Museum at Brunswick Square.