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Ivan Čavlović

(b Mostar, 1953). Bosnian-Herzegovinian soprano. Bakšić graduated from the Secondary Music School in Mostar. In 1976 she graduated from the Department for Music Theory and in 1979 from the Department for Solo-Singing at the Academy of Music in Sarajevo. She studied solo-singing in the class of the famous opera singer and professor Milica Buljubašić-Zečević. As a student she began to sing at the Music Scene of Sarajevo, first at the student concerts and then on the opera stage. In 1979 she made her début as Rosette in Manon. In 1981, at the very beginning of her career, she performed her first leading role as Floramye in the operette Little Floramye by Ivo Tijardović.

After graduating from the Department for Solo-Singing Bakšić passed the audition at the National Theatre Opera in Sarajevo and has since become a permanent soloist in the opera and operetta repertoire. Some of her leading roles include Rosette in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

Member of Brambilla family

(b Cassano d’Adda, Oct 23, 1813; d Milan, July 15, 1895). Italian soprano, sister of Marietta Brambilla. She made her début in Milan in 1831 and sang throughout Italy with great success for 15 years. In 1846 she appeared in Paris as Abigaille in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

[Teresina]

Member of Brambilla family

(b Cassano d’Adda, April 15, 1845; d Vercelli, July 1, 1921). Italian soprano, niece of Marietta Brambilla. She studied with her aunts Marietta and Teresa. She made her début in 1863 as Adalgisa at Odessa, afterwards singing in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, St Petersburg and Italy. In ...

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Trudi Ann Wright

(b Baltimore, MD, Aug 9, 1912; d Oslo, Norway, March 13, 2009). American soprano. Born to a music-loving mother and prominent physician father whose grandparents were slaves, Brown premiered the role of Bess in the original production of Porgy and Bess (1935). She studied music, first at Morgan State College and then the Juilliard School, where she was the first African American to win the Margaret McGill scholarship. Brown learned of Gershwin’s new opera, then titled Porgy, while at Juilliard, and immediately requested an audition. She sang for Gershwin a few days later and left their meeting as Bess. Gershwin frequently invited Brown to his apartment to sing parts of the opera as he composed. As a result, Bess grew from a secondary character into one of the opera’s leading roles.

After the original Broadway run and tour of Porgy and Bess ended in 1936, Brown continued with her career in the DuBose Heyward musicals ...

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Susan Parisi

Member of Caccini family

(b Florence, Oct 6, 1591; d Florence, c1660). Italian soprano and composer, younger daughter of Giulio Caccini. According to Severo Bonini, she established ‘an immortal reputation’, having ‘mastered to perfection the art of singing’. She was taught to sing and compose by her father, and by 1600 was performing at the Florentine court. Although not mentioned by name, she and her elder sister Francesca are undoubtedly the ‘figliuole’ of Giulio Caccini who sang in Il rapimento di Cefalo in October 1600 for the marriage of Maria de’ Medici and Henri IV of France. Four years later, at the invitation of Maria de’ Medici, the Caccini family spent six months in Paris, performing at the courts of Modena and Turin en route. It was once thought that Settimia went to Mantua in 1608 to sing in Monteverdi’s L’Arianna but it is now known that the singer was another Florentine woman. In ...

Article

Peter Ward Jones

revised by Rachel E. Cowgill

[Mrs Geeson]

Member of Corri family

(b Edinburgh, 1803; d c1860). Italian soprano, daughter of Natale Corri. Her singing tutor was Tommaso Rovedino, and she made her début (aged 15) at Drury Lane on 30 January 1818, in an oratorio conducted by Sir George Smart: the New Monthly Magazine wrote, ‘her voice is melodious, full and flexible; her execution is very considerable, but she is perhaps too fond of exhibiting her uncommon powers in this particular’. With her sister Frances she sang at the King’s Theatre in London in 1819–21, travelling from there to Dublin to perform in the first Irish productions of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro in 1819 (directed by Haydn Corri). She played Polly to Madame Vestris’s Macheath in The Beggar’s Opera at the Haymarket theatre on 22 July 1820, and sang at the Teatro Re in Milan in 1823. Back in London Rosalie married William Geeson on ...

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Member of Danzi family

(b Munich, 1768; d Munich, June 11, 1800). German soprano and composer. She was the daughter of the singer, actor, and theatre director Theobald Marchand, who came from Strasbourg and whose troupe was active in Mainz, Frankfurt, Mannheim, and Munich. From an early age she played children’s roles in the theatre and performed as a pianist and singer. In Munich she received tuition from the soprano Franziska Lebrun (née Danzi), who later became her sister-in-law. She and her younger brother Heinrich lived in Salzburg from 1781 to 1784 with Leopold Mozart, who taught her singing and the keyboard (she is often mentioned in his letters as ‘Gretl’). He supported her first attempts at composition (sonatas for piano or for violin and piano) and tried to have them published by the Viennese publisher Christoph Torricella, but without success. Wolfgang Mozart heard her sing on his visits to Salzburg in ...

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J.B. Steane

A type of soprano voice. The term admits a wide variety of repertory and voice type. Any claimant to it must possess a powerful voice and a style capable of energetic emphasis; yet at one end of the spectrum is the singer whose best roles may be, for example, the respective Leonoras of Il trovatore and La forza del destino, and at the other is the singer who encompasses the heaviest of the Wagnerian soprano parts, Brünnhilde and Isolde. The first type may be described as lyric-dramatic and the second as heroic. The more narrowly defined dramatic soprano would then look for parts such as Aida, Lady Macbeth and Abigaille in Verdi, Senta, Elisabeth and Kundry in Wagner, Leonore in Fidelio, and the title roles in Medea and possibly Turandot (the last of these raises a problem for many dramatic sopranos on account of the high tessitura; it is beyond the reasonable ambitions of those who have an admixture of mezzo-soprano in the voice). Contrasted voices which might still come within the general category of dramatic soprano are, for instance, those of Jessye Norman (an exceptionally full-bodied sound, shaded towards the mezzo and nearer to the lyric-dramatic) and, in an earlier generation, Eva Turner, whose voice was pure soprano but of such penetrative power that the heaviest Wagnerian roles came within its scope and with such brilliance in the upper register that it was ideal for Turandot....

Article

Winton Dean

revised by Cheryll Duncan and Rachel Allen

[‘Francesina’]

(b c 1715; bur. Hammersmith, Middlesex, July 20, 1778). French soprano. Although her birth name was Duparc, she was known professionally as Francesina. Trained in Italy, she sang in several operas at Florence, Pistoia, and Lucca in 1731–5. In 1736 she was engaged by the Opera of the Nobility for London; her first appearance there was on November 15, when she sang and danced before members of the royal family at Kensington Palace. The following week she made her King’s Theatre début in Hasse’s Siroe, and went on to sing in operas by Broschi, Pescetti, Veracini, and Duni. The following season (1737–8) she appeared in operas by Pescetti and Veracini, Handel’s new operas Faramondo (Clotilde) and Serse (Romilda), and his pasticcio Alessandro Severo (Sallustia). From then she was known almost exclusively as a Handel singer. She was his leading soprano at the King’s Theatre in early ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Fort de France, Martinique, March 24, 1932; d New York, Sept 16, 2020). Martinique soprano. She studied in Paris, making her début in 1958 at Nice as Leïla (Les pêcheurs de perles). She sang Pamina at Aix-en-Provence (1959), Lakmé at the Opéra-Comique (1961), and made her début at the Paris Opéra (1962) as Fatima (Rameau’s Les Indes galantes). In 1964 she took part in the first public performance of Rameau’s Les boréades at La Maison de la Radio, Paris. In Chicago (1966–76) she sang Leïla, Stravinsky’s Nightingale, and Antonia (Les contes d’Hoffmann), and at Wexford Lakmé (1970) and Imogene in Il pirata (1976). Having sung Countess Almaviva with the Paris Opéra at the Metropolitan (1976), she made her début with the Metropolitan company as Konstanze (1980), and in Brussels (...

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Elizabeth Forbes

revised by Alan Blyth and Meredith Eliassen

(Louise)

(b Detroit, MI, March 27, 1950; d Detroit, Jan 9, 2022). American mezzo-soprano and later soprano. Of Dutch, Sioux, Scottish, and African American ancestry, she studied at the Cleveland Institute (1968–70) with Eleanor Steber, and later with Jennie Tourel and O.G. Marzolla. While still a student, Ewing came to the attention of James Levine, which led to a dramatic debut under his direction at the Ravinia Festival in 1973. After appearances at Miami, Boston, Cologne, Chicago, and Santa Fe, Ewing performed Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at Salzburg in 1976, followed by her Metropolitan debut in the same role. Ewing developed strong determined characters in her repertoire, including Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Mélisande in Debussy’s Pellias et Milisande, Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and, perhaps most famously, the title role in Bizet’s Carmen. She also interpreted several complex 20th-century operatic roles, including Marie in Berg’s ...

Article

Falcon  

J.B. Steane

Term for a type of voice, presumed to have been exemplified by Cornélie Falcon , the dramatic soprano who sang Rachel in the première of La Juive (1835) and Valentine in that of Les Huguenots (1836). Her voice was exceptionally powerful, dramatic in quality and ample in the middle register. Mainly in France, or in association with the French repertory, ‘falcon’ has survived as a word which denotes a soprano of this type. Félia Litvinne and her pupil Germaine Lubin, both of whom sang Wagnerian roles such as Isolde and Kundry, would come under this heading. As Falcon herself sang last in ...

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Irina Boga

(b Bucharest, Romania, March 10, 1921; d Bucharest, July 6, 1998). Romanian soprano and teacher. She studied at the Bucharest Conservatory (1939–42) with Elena Saghin; in Geneva (1946) with Anna Maria Guglielmetti; and in Vienna (1947) with Kurt Nasor and Josef Krips. Her début performance took place in 1939 with a radio broadcast of lieder by Henri Duparc, Robert Schumann, and Alfred Alessandrescu; her concert stage début took place at the Romanian Atheneum (1941) alongside pianist Nicolae Rădulescu. Her operatic début took place in 1942 at the Romanian Opera in Bucharest, where she sang the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor under the baton of Jean Bobescu. She was a soloist for the Romania Choral Society in Bucharest from 1937 to 1942, after which she became a soloist for the Romanian Opera, becoming the company’s prima donna in 1945, a post she held until ...

Article

Lana Paćuka

(b Sarajevo, Bosnia, June 30, 1947). Bosnian soprano, opera soloist, and music pedagogue. She graduated in 1973 from the Music Academy Sarajevo (class of Bruna Špiler), where she also took the master’s degree in the field of solo singing in 1977. During her artistic career she achieved notable success singing the main soprano roles in the operas Il trovatore (G. Verdi), Ero s onog svijeta (J. Gotovac), The Bartered Bride (B. Smetana), The Marriage of Figaro (W.A. Mozart), and Madam Butterfly and La Boheme (G. Puccini). Her artistic activity was interrupted due to the wartime events in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. Her actions were diverted to performances within small artistic ensembles, which corresponded to the conditions of the social and cultural life of that time. She distinguished herself in appearances at the concerts of the Sarajevo Winter Festival, Summer Chamber Music (1993), and Days of Culture of the Czech Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina (...

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Noël Goodwin

(b Bratislava, Dec 23, 1946; d Zürich, Oct 18, 2021). Slovak soprano. She studied at the Bratislava Conservatory, as well as in Prague and Vienna. Her début was in 1968 in Bratislava as Rosina (Il barbiere), and two years later she was engaged for the Queen of Night at the Vienna Staatsoper. There she became a regular member of the company in 1972 and within a few years had established herself as one of the world’s leading coloratura sopranos. As the Queen of Night she made débuts at Glyndebourne in 1974 and at the Metropolitan in 1977, the year in which she first appeared at the Salzburg Festival, as Thibault (Don Carlos) under Karajan. Her other major successes included appearances as Zerbinetta, Gilda, Violetta, Lucia, Konstanze, Manon, Oscar, and Donna Anna (at La Scala in 1987). Gruberová featured prominently in the revival of Rossini and other bel canto operas, and made her Covent Garden début as Giulietta in Bellini’s ...

Article

James Wierzbicki

revised by Jonas Westover

(Ann )

(b Canby, MN, Jan 4, 1947). American soprano. After studying at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota (BM 1969), and with marion Freschel at the Juilliard School, she won first prizes in the Concert Artists Guild competition in 1970 and the Rockefeller and Minna Kaufmann Ruud competitions in 1972. She has appeared as a soloist with most of the major American orchestras, including the Baltimore SO, with which she toured East Germany, and the New York PO, with which she gave the premiere (under Pierre Boulez) of George Crumb’s Star-child (1977), a work commissioned for her by the Ford Foundation as a result of her winning its performance competition in 1971. She has also sung in Europe, with such orchestras as the Stuttgart RO and the Bavarian RO. In 1980 she won the Naumburg International Voice Competition, and the following year she made her opera debut as Mimì with Opera St. Paul (Minnesota), in addition to giving her first recitals at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center; since then she has been increasingly active as a recitalist. Gubrud’s wide expressive range and sure technique allow her to meet the demands of music from all periods. She has recorded widely on a variety of labels and has been a regular participant in the Aspen, Blossom, and Meadowbrook festivals. Gubrud’s role as a teacher has been a key facet of her career. She taught at Washington University, St. Louis (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Berlin, Aug 10, 1931; d Vienna, April 21, 2022). German soprano. She studied with Maria Ivogün in Vienna, where she made her début in 1957 in operetta. Engaged at the Volksoper and later the Staatsoper, she appeared there for over 20 years. At Salzburg (1961–3) she sang Blonde and Papagena. Her repertory included Zerlina, Despina, Marzelline, Norina, Mařenka, Sophie, Isotta (...

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Zana Shuteriqi Prela

(b Rrëshen, Abania, July 18, 1974). Albanian soprano. In 1992 she completed her vocal studies with V. Kosta at the Jordan Misja Liceu Artistik in Tirana. In 1993 she earned a scholarship and moved to Italy to study at the Accademia Mantovana of Katia Ricciarelli, and later studied at the S. Cecilia Conservatorio in Rome with Valerio Papperi. From 1997 to 2000 her activity concentrated in Italy, and she won a number of competitions including the Giacomo Pucinni Milan (1997) and Spontini International Competition in Ancona (1998), among others. She has performed on such important stages as those at Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala Milano, the Metropolitan Opera, the Berliner Staatsoper, the Vienna State Opera, the Opéra Bastille, the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, NHK Opera in Japan, the Arena di Verona, and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Her rich repertory includes roles in ...

Article

Patrick O’Connor

[Yarborough, Katherine ]

(b Wilmington, NC, July 24, 1903; d New York, NY, Aug 13, 1986). American soprano. After leaving school she went to New York in 1916. She began her stage career singing and playing the trombone in all-black musical comedies, Sissle and Blake’s Shuffle Along (1921) and James P. Johnson’s Runnin’ Wild (1923). She subsequently went to study in Europe (late 1920s) and made her debut in Milan at the Teatro Puccini as Aida (1930–31). She sang in France, Poland, and Switzerland, adding the title roles of Gounod’s La reine de Saba and Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine to her repertory before returning to the United States, where she sang Aida in Chicago and New York (at the Hippodrome, with Jules Bledsoe as Amonasro). After several further years in Europe, based in Belgium, she eventually settled in New York, where she gave her first recital at Town Hall (...