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Historic Opera
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American contralto Louise Homer (1871-1947). After a period of vocal study in Europe her initial performances were met with lukewarm reviews. Her voice was described as loud and hard with little temperament. However, with the test of time she went on to make a number of successful recordings. The Metropolitan Opera, appreciating (or taking advantage of) her vocal diversity, contracted her for twenty-two seasons. In that period she sang over forty-two roles in 700-plus appearances. Olive Kline (NY State: 1885? - Lake George, NY: 29 Jul 1976). American soprano. Like Emilio de Gogorza, she never appeared in a staged opera. She was a concert singer, mostly engaged for oratorios. She was hired by the Victor Company in 1912, and recorded discs for them into the 1930s. She did record operatic arias. She recorded many discs under the name of Alice Green. Irish tenor John McCormack (1884-1945) was inspired to sing after witnessing a performance of La Bohème at Covent Garden with Caruso. Under the name Giovanni Foli, he made his opera debut (1906) in the title role of L'amico Fritz.
Connecticut native Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981) made her brilliant operatic debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Leonora (15 Nov 1918) in La Forza del Destino, in the first performance of that work there. She was considered one of the finest dramatic sopranos ever. Henry Krehbiel of The New York Tribune wrote, ". . . she possesses a voice of natural beauty that may prove a gold mine; it is vocal gold, anyhow, with its luscious lower and middle tones, dark, rich. . . . Brilliant and flexible in the upper register." Italian baritone Titta Ruffo (1877-1953) made his debut (1898) at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome as the Herold in Lohengrin. At Covent Garden as the Duke in Rigoletto (1903) he was abruptly dismissed after his Gilda, Nellie Melba, proclaimed him "too young" to be her father (she was sixteen years his senior). His American career began in Chicago in 1912, where he was a regular visitor until 1926. His Metropolitan debut (1922) as Rossini's Figaro was greeted with "tremendous applause and cheers" when he stepped on stage to sing Largo al factotum. Sophie Braslau (16 Aug 1892 - NY: 22 Dec 1935) made her operatic debut at the Metropolitan Opera as the off-stage voice in Parsifal (27 Nov 1913). A contralto, she continued to appear at the Met in a number of small roles. She had a considerable concert career. Emilio de Gogorza, concert baritone (Brooklyn: 29 May 1874 - NY: 10 May 1949). He made his debut (1897) in a concert with Marcella Sembrich. He never appeared on the operatic stage reportedly because he was extremely nearsighted. He was an prolific recording artist, under various professional names, including, E. Francisco, Carlos Francisco, Eldridge R. Johnson, Edward Franklin, M. Fernand, and Herbert Goddard. He used his real name with Victor only. In 1911 he married Emma Eames. After 1930 he devoted most of his time to teaching. One of his pupils was John Brownlee. Italian coloratura soprano Amelita Galli-Curci (1882-1963) as Violetta in La Traviata. She became world famous nearly overnight with her technically sensational singing. She gave up her career in 1936 after a larynx operation. A Victor Georg photograph. Alma Gluck (Bucharest: 11 May 1884 - NY: 27 Oct 1938). American soprano of Romanian birth. Debut (1909) at the Metropolitan Opera as Sophie in Werther. She sang for three seasons at the Met before devoting most of the rest of her career to the concert stage. She studied with, among others, Marcella Sembrich. Bohemian, later American, contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861- 1936). Her concert debut took place in Graz at the age of fifteen in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Only two years later she made her operatic debut as Azucena (Il Trovatore) at the Dresden Royal Opera. In 1926, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of her singing debut in Graz, she performed to a packed house at Carnegie Hall.
De Gogorza