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Category Archives: Sopranos

AASE NORDMO LØVBERG, Soprano * 10 June 1923 Målselv, Troms, Norway + 25 January 2013 Lillehammer, Oppland, Norway;

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Aase Nordmo Løvberg (10 June 1923 – 25 January 2013) was a Norwegian opera soprano. She was one of the 20th century’s foremost Nordic singers.[citation needed] For many years she sang with Jussi Björling at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, and she also sang under renowned conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Georg Solti.

Løvberg was born in Målselv, Troms, and made her professional début in Oslo in 1948. In the period 1952 to 1970 she lived in Stockholm, interrupted by a stay at the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Løvberg was a professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music and head of the Norwegian Opera. She was a Commander of the Order of St. Olav, and won a Gammleng prize in the veteran class in 2000. She was married to Børt-Erik Thoresen.

Løvberg lived her last years in Lillehammer, Oppland, where she died aged 89.

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Posted by on June 11, 2017 in Sopranos

 

INA SOUEZ, Soprano * 03 June 1903 – Windsor, Colorado, USA + 07 December 1992 – Santa Monica, California, USA;


The American soprano, Ina Souez, was born to a family of Cherokee descent in Windsor, Colorado. Her real name was Rains, Souez being the name of her maternal grandmother. She studied singing in Denver the Canadian contralto Florence Hinman (Florence Hinricks), who sent her to Europe in 1931, and studied with Sofia del Campo in Milan.

After making her debut in 1928 at Ivrea as Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme, Ina Souez sang at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. In May 1929 she made her Covent Garden debut as Liu, with Eva Turner as Turandot. She caused a sensation, but was not re-engaged. For the next decade she made her home in England. It was Hamish Wilson, who designed the sets for all the pre-war productions there, apart from Verdi’s Macbeth, who brought Ina Souez to the notice of Glyndebourne. As a result of her success as Fiordiligi, Souez was asked back to Covent Garden for the 1935 season, causing a crisis at Glyndebourne, where the management, taking it for granted that she would return, had not contracted her for W.A. Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. In the end matters were sorted out: Souez sang Fiordiligi on May 30, and June 7, 1935 at Glyndebourne; between the performances she sang Micaela at Covent Garden on June 4, with Conchita Supervia as Carmen, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. Once again she was very well received, but not re-engaged. In 1936 she added Donna Anna to her Glyndebourne repertoire and by all accounts this part suited her vocally and temperamentally even better than Fiordiligi. She sang both roles for the next three seasons, and also appeared in Stockholm (1939) and The Hague, where she sang in Verdi’s Requiem.

Ina Souez was the prima donna of the Glyndebourne festival in its formative years (1934-1936) and made her home in England for a while. Cosi fan tutte, an opera much less well-known then than now, rapidly became popular. Souez, who married in 1929 an Englishman and lived in London until 1938, was described in the programme as English. Returning to Glyndebourne every year until the outbreak of World War II, she continued to sing Fiordiligi and, from 1936, Donna Anna in W.A. Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Her Donna Anna was described as ‘superbly fiery and brilliant’, while her Fiordiligi was thought to have increased in technical security and dramatic strength with every season that passed.

At the beginning of World War II, Ina Souez returned to the USA and enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps. After singing Fiordiligi with the New Opera Company in New York in 1941 and with the New York City Opera in 1945, she retired from opera and became a jazz singer She toured America with Spike Jones and his City Slickers, whose popularity was at its height in the late 1940’s. “Spike was offering me some real money,” she later said. She spent more than 10 years with him as the butt of his musical satire, with members of the band removing pigeons from her huge hat as she sang.

After leaving the band, Ina Souez taught voice in San Francisco and later in Los Angeles. She had lived at the home for eight years after a stroke, She died at a nursing home in Santa Monica, California. She was 89 years old.

The passion and involvement that Ina Souez brought to her singing of W.A. Mozart in no way detracted from its stylishness as can be heard on the Glyndebourne recordings of Cosi fan Tutte and Don Giovanni, in which she takes her accustomed roles. Those recordings were the first commercial recordings of those two W.A. Mozart operas and are treasured by collectors. Her recorded performance of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte is widely regarded as the yardstick by which all subsequent interpretations have been measured. These recordings, frequently reissued, remain as a worthy souvenir of a gifted singer who, although her career was not of long duration, will not be soon forgotten. She also won praise for her performances of Verdi’s Requiem with the tenor Jussi Bjoerling.

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Posted by on June 4, 2017 in Sopranos

 

ROSA RAISA, Soprano * 30 May 1893, Białystok, Poland + 28 September 1963, Santa Monica, California, United States;

Born Raitza Burchstein in the Russian sector of late nineteenth-century Poland, Rosa Raisa ascended with blinding quickness to the upper echelons of the operatic world. A child witness to a pogrom in which dozens in her hometown were killed, young Raitza left her Russian-language native town and traveled to Italy where she trained with Barbara Marchisio who grounded her in the early and middle nineteenth-century Italian vocal tradition. After a successful Italian debut, she came to the Chicago Opera in the fall of 1913. There she remained for 24 years as reigning dramatic soprano. The lustre of her powerful instrument and the dramatic intensity of her stage personality made her an icon of the Chicago company, regarded with awe and respect throughout the world.

Raisa’s parents were Jewish and she remained fiercely proud of her heritage throughout her life, although she converted to Catholicism only weeks before her death in order to make possible burial next to her husband in Italy. Raisa left Poland for Italy, where other relatives had already emigrated. An audition for Maestro Vincenzo Lombardi led to a scholarship at the Naples Conservatory with Marchisio accepting her not as a class member, but as a private pupil. Marchisio also counseled the girl with the “exceptional” voice in matters of career preparation, good health, and adequate sleep. Raisa graduated in June 1911 and sang “Bel Raggio” for the ceremony. After performing in several orchestral concerts, she made her operatic debut on September 6, 1913, at the Teatro Reggio in Parma. Her Leonora in Verdi’s Oberto prompted the reviewer in Orfeo to describe her voice as “magnificent, rich in sonorous and powerful notes of beautiful timbre.” Although reservations about her awkwardness were mentioned, the writer predicted, “she will be splendidly successful.”

Only two months after her first performance on any stage, Raisa sang in Baltimore and Philadelphia before making her Chicago debut, singing first at a singers’ showcase at the Blackstone Hotel, then as Aida. The following January, Raisa sang the only secondary role of her career, taking on the First Flower Maiden in Parsifal. Her first Chicago-Philadelphia Opera Company tour took her to Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Milwaukee before the end of April 1914.

In May 1914, Raisa sang at Covent Garden, introducing her voice to English audiences in Aida and later singing Elena in Mefistofele and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro. Paris heard her as Nedda and Desdemona and Modena made its acquaintance with her in a long run of Zandonai’s Francesca di Rimini. Rome followed, then a season in Buenos Aires. Raisa made her La Scala debut in 1916, again as Aida. Later, she created in that theater the role of Asteria in Boito’s Nerone (1924) and was the choice of Puccini and Toscanini for the title role in the 1926 premiere of Turandot.

In 1920, Raisa married Italian baritone Giacomo Rimini. They sang together often and, upon retirement, opened a school of singing in Chicago. Critics were fond of Raisa, absorbed by her dramatic intensity and authority — and a voice described by the feared Claudia Cassidy as “a royal purple dramatic soprano shot with gold and fire.”

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Rosa Raisa as Maliella

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Sopranos

 

JOAN HAMMOND, Soprano * 24 May 1912, Christchurch, New Zealand + 26 November 1996, Bowral, Australia;

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One of the great opera stars of the two decades following World War Two, Joan Hammond established a wide international following as a soprano on stage and as a recording artist.

Dame Joan was a woman of many talents. While at school, she won the NSW Junior Golf title and would eventually win the NSW Golf Championship three times and be runner-up in the nationals. In her early years, she trained in voice and violin at the Sydney Conservatorium and played violin with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Although her real love was for singing, success in this field did not begin until her talent was recognised by the wife of the then NSW Governor, who raised funds to send her to Vienna in 1936. There she trained under the best tutors of the day.

While striving to maintain her career during the early years of World War Two, she drove an ambulance in London during the Blitz.

In 1941, she recorded the Puccini aria, Oh My Beloved Father, which became the first classical aria to sell more than a million records. She entertained troops and civilians during the war, even singing in underground air raid shelters and on battleships in northern Scotland.

Returning to Australia in 1946, she resumed her career by singing all the major soprano roles in Europe, the United States and Australia. From 1975 she taught at the Victorian College of the Arts. She was the first artistic director of the Victoria State Opera and in 1974 she was created Dame of the British Empire.

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Sopranos

 

ILVA LIGABUE, Soprano * May 23, 1932, Reggio Emilia + August 17, 1998, Palermo;

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Ilva Ligabue (May 23, 1932, Reggio Emilia – August 17, 1998, Palermo) was an Italian operatic soprano, best known for the role of Alice Ford in Falstaff, which she recorded twice, under Georg Solti (RCA, 1963) and Leonard Bernstein (Sony, 1966).

Ilva Ligabue studied at the Milan Conservatory in the class of Campogalliani and at La Scuola di Canto alla Scala where she made her debut as Marina in 1953.[1] After singing with success at most of the Italian opera houses, she won considerable acclaim in the title role of Beatrice di Tenda at La Scala in 1961, followed by Margherita in Boito’s Mefistofele in Chicago.[1]

She then began appearing abroad, notably in Germany, also singing at the Vienna State Opera, the Paris Opera, and became a regular guest artist at the Glyndebourne Festival and the Aix-en-Provence Festival, where she was especially admired as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte. She also appeared in Buenos Aires, Chicago and New York City.

A sensitive and intelligent singer and a fine actress, other notable roles included Amelia in Un ballo in maschera and Desdemona in Otello. Alan Blyth wrote that “those who saw and heard her will always remember the liveliness of her characterizations and the aplomb of her singing”, representing an Italian vocal style “outgoing yet disciplined”.

Her complete opera recordings include Alice in Falstaff conducted by Downes, Solti and Bernstein, Verdi’s Messa da Requiem on CD and DVD under Giulini, as well as live recordings including Verdi’s Otello in Dallas in 1962 with Del Monaco and Vinay (singing Iago) and Verdi’s I masnadieri in Rome in 1972 with Raimondi, Bruson and Christoff.

Ligabue was married to the Italian baritone Paolo Pedani.

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Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Sopranos

 

CLARICE CARSON, Soprano * 23 December 1929, Montréal, Quebec, Canada + 2 May 2015, Toronto, Ontario Canada;

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Clarice Carson (née Katz), soprano (born 23 December 1929 in Montréal, QC; died 2 May 2015 in Toronto, ON). One of Canada’s most prominent opera singers, Clarice Carson sang with the Metropolitan Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, the CBC and many major companies in North America, South America and Europe. She shared the stage with such opera stars as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Louis Quilico and Léopold Simoneau, and worked with such leading conductors as Zubin Mehta, Eugene Ormandy, James Levine and Richard Bonynge, among many others. She was inducted into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame and was the first Canadian honoured with a commemorative plaque at the National Opera Center in New York.
Education and Early Career
Carson studied with Pauline Donalda and Jacqueline Richard in Montréal, and with Julia Drobner in New York. She made her public debut at a Sarah Fischer Concert in Montréal in 1956. Her first operatic roles were with the Opera Guild of Montréal: as the Lady-in-Waiting in Macbeth (1959), Micaëla in Carmen (1960), and Siebel in Faust (1963).
Career Highlights
She spent the 1965–66 season with the New York City Opera, where she made her debut as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, and a tour in 1966–67 with the Metropolitan Opera National Company, as the Countess, Violetta in La Traviata, and the Female Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. She then spent three seasons (1967–70) at the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her debut as Pamina in The Magic Flute. One of her most successful roles there was Musetta in La Bohème.
She frequently sang in the United States (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, San Francisco), Canada (Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, Québec City, Edmonton, Stratford) and Europe (Barcelona, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Rouen, Nice). She sang the title role in Tosca for CBC TV in 1970 with Louis Quilico as Scarpia, and for the Canadian Opera Company (COC) in 1972. She was also Elisabeth deValois in Don Carlos for the COC in 1977. She returned to the Metropolitan in 1975–76 to portray Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte.
Carson sang several leading roles for the Opéra du Québec: the title role in Suor Angelica and Giorgietta in Il Tabarro (1971), Desdemona in Otello (1973), and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, and Alice Ford in Falstaff (1974). She appeared in New York in concert versions of such seldom heard operas as Berlioz’ Les Troyens (1972) and Pfitzner’s Palestrina (1973). Her bright lirico-spinto encompassed a wide repertoire ranging from Constanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio to Elsa in Lohengrin, Maddalena in Andrea Chenier, and the title roles in Aida, Salome, and Turandot.
Personal Life
Her husband, in a second marriage, was Philon Ktsanes, a Greek-American tenor and vocal coach. After retiring in 1986, she served as an active board member of the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists (IRCPA), where she mentored many young singers.
Honours
Carson was inducted into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame at Place des Arts by Opéra de Montréal in 1998. In 2013, she became the first Canadian to receive a commemorative plaque acknowledging her career at the National Opera Center in New York. Carson donated her musical scores and recordings to IRCPA, which plans to open a reference library in her name in the fall of 2017.
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Sopranos

 

ISABELLA HINCKLEY-SUSINI, Soprano * 1840 Albany, Albany County, New York, USA – 05 July 1862, New York, USA;

The brief career of the favorite prima donna, best known amongst us as “Belle Hincklry,” terminated yesterday morning.

Mme. Hinckley Susini was a native of Albany, where, while at school, she developed quite early in life great musical talent coupled with such energy of nature and buoyancy of spirits as justified her friends in predicting for her a brilliant public career. Her parents’ circumstances were not such as enabled them to give her a thorough musical education, and it was with regret that she, at one time, relinquished the long-cherished plan of studying abroad. She was for several years the leading soprano at one of the largest churches in Albany, and while in that position made many warm and influential friends, who determined to aid her in her laudable desires. She was accordingly tendered a complimentary concert by the people of Albany, which netted such a liberal sum as warranted her in going at once to Italy, where, under the best teachers and masters, she became more finished in style and perfect in execution. The rapidity with which she mastered languages was as remarkable as was her memory, and it was a matter of note, while she was a pupil in Rome, that no task requiring simple effort of memory, was too great for her.

After a successful debut in Paris, she came to this country about two years ago. Since that time she has fairly won her way to the respectful affection of the people, and the cordial recognition of the critics. Free from whim, abounding in good nature, ready at a moment’s notice, thoroughly conversant with the manners and customs of our people, and mindful of the important truth, that “Americans are not fond of disappointments,” she, though not so brilliant as Cazzaniga, or so impassioned as Colson, uniting in herself the conscientiousness of La Grange, and the piquancy of Piccolomini, reigned queen of Young America almost from the night of her debut.

Some months since she married Signor Susini, the distinguished basso; and scarcely a year has parsed, during which time she was a bride and a mother, before we are called upon to record her death.

Her public career was brief and brilliant; her domestic life that of a dutiful daughter, a faithful wife, a loving mother.

~The New York Times, 6 Jul 1862

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Agostino Susini & Isabella Hinckley by Brady

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Augestino Basil Susini won the heart of Isabella. Source the Net.

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Left to right: Isabella; Maria (wife); one of the sons, name unknown; and Dr. John W. Hinckley. c. 1853. Matthew B. Brady photo. Source, Library of Congress.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in Sopranos

 
 
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