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Category Archives: Mezzo-Sopranos

CARMELLA PONSELLE, Mezzo-Soprano * 07 June 1887, Schenectady, Schenectady County, New York, USA + 13 June 1977, New York, New York County (Manhattan) New York, USA;

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Carmela Ponselle, a renowned mezzo-soprano of the opera and concert stage, was born Carmela Anna Ponzillo on June 7, 1887 in Schenectady, New York. She was the eldest of three children born to Maddalena and Bernardino Ponzillo; Antonio and Rosa were the younger siblings. Like her sister Rosa, Carmela began her musical activity in the girl’s choir at Meriden’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The church organist, Miss Anna Ryan, taught her how to read music and play the piano. Carmela’s voice continued to develop and, on her 21st birthday, she moved to New York City to receive voice training and seek employment.

After a start as a ballad singer in a supper club and in theatrical musicals in New York City, she made many appearances in vaudeville on the Keith Circuit. Joined by her sister Rosa they became national headliners as “The Ponzillo Sisters” until Rosa left to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House.

In 1925 Carmela made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera Company as Amneris in “Aida.” She went on to sing such great roles as Laura in “La Gioconda” (which she did with Rosa), the female lead role in “Samson and Delilah” and “Carmen.” The photo above shows her as Santuzza in “Cavalleria Rusticana,” one of her most famous roles.

Madame Carmela Ponselle retired from an active career in 1935 and made her last public appearance as a performer in April, 1951 when, at the age of 63, she sang an aria from Verdi’s “Don Carlos” at Madison Square Garden at a benefit concert for the blind. She spent many of her retirement years working with the handicapped and underprivileged and left a legacy of sincere human service to those less fortunate than her.

MERIDEN HALL of FAME

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Posted by on June 7, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

CHRISTINA ANGELAKOVA, Mezzo-Soprano * 29 October 1944, Isperih, Bulgaria + 20 May 2018, Sofia, Bulgaria;

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R.I.P CHRISTINA ANGELAKOVA (1944 – 2018)

The celebrated Bulgarian opera prima Hristina Angelakova has passed away at age 73. She was born on October 29, 1944. Hristina Angelakova graduated from a high school in the town of Shumen (Northeast Bulgaria). Later, she studied at the National Academy of Music in Sofia in the classes of Professor Sima Ivanova. Hristina Angelakova specialized at Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome and the Center for Development of Young Singers at Milan’sTeatro alla Scala. Hristina Angelakova’s career began with a three-year contract with La Scala where she made her debut on stage. In 1973 Angelakova won the first prize at the competition for opera singers in the town of Treviso (Italy). Later, she earned other prestigious awards, too. She is a laureate of the Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius first class, as well as the Commendatore title for her exceptional merits to Italy’s culture.

Hristina Angelakova was a soloist of the Sofia National Opera and Ballet for over two decades. She was a director of the Sofia Opera between 2001 and 2004. She combined her duties at the Sofia National Opera and Ballet with her multiple participations at foreign music stages quite successfully. She also lectured at the National Academy of Music. She toured Berlin, Munich, Budapest, Dusseldorf, Liege, Leipzig, Bologna, Palermo, Ravenna, Moscow, Rouen and Athens as a soloist and chamber musician. She partnered with many celebrated musicians. Hristina Angelakova was also an artistic director of the Mozart Days Festival in Pravets.

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Posted by on May 27, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

PATRICIA MORISON, Mezzo-Soprano * 19 March 1915, New York City, New York, United + 20 May 2018, Los Angeles, California, United States;

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R.I.P PATRICIA MORISON (1915 – 2018)

Broadway star and longtime Park La Brea resident Patricia Morison, known for starring roles in “Kiss Me, Kate” and “The King and I,” died on May 20 at the age of 103.

Morison moved from Park La Brea a few years ago, said John Burney, director of resident services, but left a lasting legacy. She lived in a tower apartment since 1960 but had recently been in hospice care and died of natural causes.

“Getting to know Patricia was an honor for me personally and professionally,” Burney said. “Seldom do you meet people who demonstrate a love for life and all that is good every time you see them. Her eyes translated her personal love as she spoke to you. To be in her presence was a gift. As excited as I was to see her each time we met, she was more excited to see me. I loved hearing her stories of the golden age of Hollywood and Broadway.”

Morison made her film debut in 1939 in “Persons In Hiding,” and followed with roles in dozens of films in the 1940s and early 1950s. She also appeared in numerous television programs from the 1950s onward.

She was perhaps best known for her role in “Kiss Me, Kate,” a Broadway production with music by Cole Porter that debuted in 1948. Porter hand-picked Morison for the role. She later starred in productions of “The King and I” with Yul Brenner, “Kismet” and “The Merry Widow,” among others.

Burney said Morison’s Park La Brea apartment was decorated with handwritten notes from some of the biggest names in music and theater, including Porter and Oscar Hammerstein. Her home was befitting of a grand dame of the stage and screen. She enjoyed a view of the Hollywood Sign from her living room window.

“Her spirit will continue to touch all of us that called her a friend and neighbor,” Burney added.

In a Nov. 18, 2010, article in the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press by Jill Weinlein, Morison recounted stories from her illustrious career. She said the first day she met Brenner, he was in his dressing room sitting naked in a Buddha-style position waiting to get his skin stained to look like the king of Siam. Morison said Brenner later told her she was a pleasure to work with. The pair starred in eight shows per week during the Broadway run of “The King and I,” and later in the production’s run in London.

Morison also recounted that one of her dresses in “The King and I” weighed 60 pounds and it took three people to help her get dressed. The dress wouldn’t fit in the dressing room so it was hung backstage.

The venerable actress also told of her early days growing up in Manhattan and studying to be an artist. She warmly recalled her work with the USO during World War II appearing with stars such as Al Jolson, Merle Oberon and Allen Jenkins.

Morison attributed her longevity to having good friends with “a lust and joy for life.” In 2010, Morison said she still enjoyed painting inside her apartment in the evenings.

Burney added that he will always remember Morison and the impact she had on him and others.

“Her love was far reaching and timeless,” he said. “We will fondly think of her often at Park La Brea.”

Park Labrea News Beverly Press

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Patricia Morison, a mezzo-soprano, was the first performer to be heard lustily singing Wunderbar, So in Love and, above all, I Hate Men – huge Cole Porter hits from the musical. Photograph: Alamy

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

GÖTA VIKTORIA LINDBERG (ALLARD), Mezzo-Soprano * 12 May 1903, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden + 05 March 1980, St Matteus Församling, Stockholm, Stockholm County, Sweden;

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Göta Viktoria Lindberg (Allard) (12 May 1903, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden + 05 March 1980, St Matteus Församling, Stockholm, Stockholm County, Sweden) was a Swedish mezzo-soprano.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

MIMI LERNER, Mezzo-Soprano * 20 May 1945, Sambir, Ukraine + 29 March 2007, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States;

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Mimi Lerner (May 20, 1945 — March 29, 2007) was a Polish-American mezzo-soprano and later head of the voice department at Carnegie Mellon University.

Lerner was born Emilia Lipczer in Sambir, Ukraine, in 1945 to Jewish parents who hid in the woods to avoid Nazis until she was one. They then moved to Paris and later to the Bronx.

Lerner graduated from Queens College with a bachelor’s degree in music education. She was teaching in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while earning a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon. What started as a singing hobby led to her debut at the New York City Opera in 1979, singing Sextus in La clemenza di Tito. Later NYCO assignments included Adalgisa in Norma, Bradamante in Alcina, Smeton in Anna Bolena, and leading roles in the Central Park trilogy (which consists of Deborah Drattell and Wendy Wasserstein’s The Festival of Regrets, Michael Torke and A. R. Gurney’s Strawberry Fields, and Robert Beaser and Terrence McNally’s The Food of Love).

Since the early 1980s she was a regular guest artist with opera companies throughout the United States, including the Dallas Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Opera, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Washington National Opera. She appeared on the international stage at La Scala, the Théâtre du Châtelet, and the Glyndebourne Festival.

Death

She died in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland from complications of a heart tumor, which had been diagnosed a dozen years earlier. She was 61 years old.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

LEONORA SPARKES, Mezzo-Soprano * 1883, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom + 8 June 1969, Erie, Pennsylvania, United States;

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Lenora Beatrice Sparkes (1879 – June 8 1969) was a British-American mezzo-soprano who performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in the 1910s
Biography
She was born in 1879 in Gloucestershire, England to Jacob Sparkes and Elizabeth Mountain. Andreas Dippel heard her sing at Covent Garden and offered her a contract at the Metropolitan Opera in 1908.[3]

She appeared in the American premiere of Boris Godunov at the Metropolitan Opera as Tsarevna Xenia Borisovna of Russia on March 19, 1913 with Arturo Toscanini conducting.[4]

She sang with Enrico Caruso three times, including in the MET’s production of Aida in 1913. Her career was primarily spent in London and New York, but she also sang in Paris.

She died in Erie, Pennsylvania aged 90

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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 

ARDA MANDIKIAN, Mezzo-Soprano * 01 September 1924, Smyrna, Turkey + 08 November 2009, Athens, Greece;

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Born in Smyrna to Armenian parents, she was trained in Greece where she sang duets with Maria Callas as a teenager. Championed by Benjamin Britten, she first appeared at Covent Garden in 1953 in “Peter Grimes”. In 1954 she participated in the world premiere of “Turn of the Screw” as Miss Jessel at La Fenice in Venice. First Witch and Soceress in “Dido and Aeneas”, Eurydice, Musetta and the title role in “le Coq d’Or” as well as the Berlioz Dido showed her versatility.

Artist biography by Charles Rhodes

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Jeanette Pilou (left) & Arda Mandikian (right)

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in Mezzo-Sopranos

 
 
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