Category Archives: Sopranos

DOLORES WILSON, Soprano * 9 August 1928, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States + 28 September 2010, Englewood, New Jersey, United States;

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Dolores Wilson, a Metropolitan Opera soprano of the 1950s who later sang in Broadway musicals, died on Sept. 28 in Englewood, N.J. She was 82 and lived in Englewood.

A friend, Karin Farrell, confirmed the death, saying Ms. Wilson died of natural causes.

Ms. Wilson, who appeared at the Met 26 times between 1954 and 1959, was praised by critics for her silvery voice and assured stage presence. She made her debut with the company at 25, in the title role in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” opposite the distinguished tenor Jan Peerce.

Reviewing the performance in The New York Times, Howard Taubman wrote that Ms. Wilson “sang a Lucia of uncommon merit,” adding: “Her voice is fresh in quality, large in size and flexible in production. She has considerable poise, and she knows something about making music rather than pretty sounds.”

At the Met, Ms. Wilson’s other roles included Rosina in Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” Susanna in Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” and Zerlina in his “Don Giovanni” and Gilda in Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”

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Elsewhere, she originated the title role in “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” an opera by the American composer Douglas Moore set amid the silver mines of 19th-century Colorado. Ms. Wilson sang the role in the opera’s world premiere, on July 7, 1956, at the Central City Opera in Central City, Colo. (She would alternate with Lenya Gabriele during the rest of the run.)
The opera soon entered the standard repertory; the role of Baby Doe, the young wife of the silver magnate Horace Tabor, would come to be associated in public memory with Beverly Sills, who sang it often with the New York City Opera.

Dolores Mae Wilson was born in Philadelphia on Aug. 9, 1928; her mother, Elisa E. Wilson, was a fashion designer whose clients included Loretta Young and Dinah Shore. After her parents separated when she was a girl, Dolores moved with her mother to New York.

By the time she was a teenager, Dolores was singing regularly on the radio and had also begun her classical training. Choosing opera over popular song, she got much of her early experience in Italy, where she sang to considerable acclaim under the name Dolores Vilsoni.

After leaving the Met as a result of creative differences with its famously autocratic general manager, Rudolf Bing, Ms. Wilson turned to musical theater. She made her Broadway debut in “The Yearling,” a short-lived 1965 musical that also starred David Wayne, and later took over the role of Golde in the original Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Her other Broadway credits include the 1979 musical “I Remember Mama” and “Annie,” in which she took over the role of Miss Hannigan.

Ms. Wilson was married and divorced twice. No immediate family members survive.

Only once, by all accounts, did Ms. Wilson’s operatic training fail to stand her in good stead. As she explained in an interview with The New York Mirror in 1954, it caused her unanticipated difficulties after she arrived in Italy as a young singer:

“I found that the Italian I’d learned by studying operas enabled me to talk intelligently only about poisons and suicide and tragic love affairs, and was no good at all for everyday affairs.”

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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Sopranos


MAUDE FAY, Soprano * 18 April 1878, San Francisco, California, USA + 7 October 1964, Connellsville, Pennsylvania, USA

She studied singing under Aglaja Orgeni in Dresden and made her debut in 1906 at the Hofoper of Munich as Marguerite in ‘’Faust’’ of C. Gounod. She remained active till 1914 in Munich. She sang in 1908 the title role in the Munich première of the opera ‘’Donna Diana’’ of  E. N. Reznicek, also appeared in the premières of the operas ‘’Elektra’’ (1908) and ‘’Ariadne auf Naxos’’ (1913) by R. Strauss. She had there a huge success as  Gräfin in ‘’Figaros Hochzeit’’ and as Donna Anna ‘’Don Giovanni’’. Her other roles in Munich were the Elsa in ‘’Lohengrin’’, the title role in ‘’Jessonda’’of  L. Spohr, Ada in Die Feen of R. Wagner, Norma and the Irene in ‘’Rienzi’’ of R. Wagner. She guested during this time at the Stadttheater of Zurich (1909), at the Hofoper in Berlin (1909), at the Oper of Frankfurt a. M. (1910) and Leipzig (1911). At Covent Garden in London she appeared in 1914 as Sieglinde in ‘’Walküre’’, as Gutrune in ‘’Götterdämmerung’’ and as Elsa in ‘’Lohengrin’’. She made also guest appearances in St. Petersburg, Brussels and in the 1912-1913 season in Amsterdam, where she had a huge success as Elisabeth in ‘’Tannhäuser’’ and as Sieglinde in ‘’Walküre’’. From 1915 to 1917 seasons she was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1916 she sang there as a beginning role the part of Sieglinde. In the 1916-1917 season she made guest appearance at the Chicago Opera. In  the 1920-1921 season she was to be heard again at the San Carlo Opera Company in the USA. After she had married to American naval officer Powers, she gave only seldom guest performances and concerts. Later she lived in San Francisco.

Chronology of some appearances

1906-1914 Munich  Hofoper

1909 Zurich  Stadttheater

1909  Berlin Hofoper

1910 Frankfurt a. M. Oper

1911 Leipzig Oper

1912-1913 Amsterdam Opera

1914 London Covent Garden

1915-1917 New York Metropolitan Opera

1916-1917  Chicago Opera

1920-1921 USA San Carlo Opera Company


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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Sopranos


BARBARA FEI, Soprano * 8 July 1931, China + 2 January 2017, Hong Kong;

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Barbara Fei (Chinese: 費明儀; 8 July 1931 – 2 January 2017), also known as Barbara Fei Ming-yi, was a Hong Kong soprano opera singer. She was founder of a choral group, Allegro Singers, which performed for over 50 years.

Fei was born in 1931 in Tianjin, China, at the outset of the Second Sino-Japanese War. At age four, she performed from memory “The Family Song”, from a film directed by her father, Fei Mu, one of China’s top film directors.

Fei studied piano and vocal music at the national conservatory in Nanjing in the late 1940s, before relocating to Hong Kong with her family in 1949. She made her debut at a 1951 concert, presented by the Sino-British Orchestra, inaugurating the new hall at Queen’s College (Hong Kong).


Fei (second from left) in 1983 with friends in Hong Kong, including composer Hwang Yau-tai (second from right).
In 1956, Fei joined the Sino-British Orchestra to perform in Guangzhou, and, later that year, flew to Paris to study under European soprano Lotte Schöne for three years. She founded the Allegro Singers in 1964 and commissioned Chinese composers to arrange folk songs for chorus, which she did for every annual concert up to 2016.

Fei was awarded the Bronze and a Silver Bauhinia Medal in 2001 and 2012. She was a long-time member of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, serving also as head of music until late 2016. Despite plans for a January 2017 Taipei performance, Fei’s final one was in November 2016, when she conducted the Allegro Singers at a concert series presented by the Chinese Women Composers’ Association, of which she was honorary president

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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Sopranos


DOROTHEA SIBERT, Soprano * 11 October 1921, Königsberg, Germany (today Kaliningrad, Russia) + 31 May 2013, Strande near Kiel;

Dorothea Siebert (1921-2013) was a German soprano.

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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Sopranos


LORE HOFFMANN, Soprano * 23 August 1911, Bielefeld, Germany + 16 February 1996, Bad Pyrmont, Germany;

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Lore Hoffmann (23 August 1911, Bielefeld, Germany – 16 February 1996, Bad Pyrmont, Germany) was a German soprano .

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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Sopranos


MINNIE NAST, Soprano * 10 October 1874, Karlsruhe, Germany + 20 June 1956, Füssen, Germany;

Minnie Nast (10 October 1874 – 20 June 1956) was a German soprano. She was born in Karlsruhe and studied at the Karlsruhe Conservatory, making her début at Aachen in 1897.

Nast performed in Dresden from 1898–1919 and then taught singing there until the bombing of the city in 1945 during World War II. She also toured in Canada, the United States, Russia, the Netherlands, and England. After the 1907 winter season, a shipwreck cost many of the opera company their lives and made her decide never to tour overseas again.

Nast specialized in light and soubrette roles, especially Mozart, and she created the part of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier in 1911. Her clear tone and lack of continuous vibrato were echoed by other sopranos of the period. She made some recordings which indicate high technical accomplishment, including her part in the trio from Der Rosenkavalier. She also sang the part of Micaëla in the first recording of Carmen. Nast died in Füssen.

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Posted by on October 10, 2017 in Sopranos


BLANCHE ARRAL, Soprano * 10 October 1864, Belgium + 3 March 1945, Palisades Park, New Jersey, United States;

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Blanche Arral (10 October 1864 – 3 March 1945) was a Belgian coloratura soprano.

Born Clara Lardinois in Liège, Belgium, the youngest of 17 children, she studied under Mathilde Graumann Marchesi in Paris. She debuted in a small part in the 1884 world premiere of Jules Massenet’s Manon. Arral performed in various opera houses in Brussels, Paris and St. Petersburg before moving to the United States.

In 1901 she was with a touring company in Indochina, while waiting for the 1902 Exposition of Hanoi to open, performing at Haiphong and the Hanoi Opera House.[1]

In October 1909 she debuted at Carnegie Hall and joined the Metropolitan Opera for the 1909–1910 season. She received her voice instruction from Mathilde Graumann Marchesi. Arral was married to Hamilton Dwight Bassett, a journalist from Cincinnati.[2] Author Jack London based the character of Lucille Arral in his short story collection Smoke Bellew on Blanche Arral.

She died in Palisades Park, New Jersey.

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Posted by on October 10, 2017 in Sopranos

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