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Dominique-René de Lerma

revised by Karen M. Bryan

(b Meridian, NC, Feb 14, 1894; d Washington, DC, March 19, 1962). American opera director and teacher. She studied at the New England Conservatory and the Chicago Musical College. In 1927 she founded the Cardwell School of Music in Pittsburgh. She later established the Cardwell Dawson Choir, which won prizes at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago (1933–4) and the New York World’s Fair (1939–40). In 1941 she produced Aïda for the meeting in Pittsburgh of the National Association of Negro Musicians (of which she was then president). Her production led to the establishment of the National Negro Opera Company. The group’s official debut (in another performance of Aïda) took place at the Syrian Mosque in Pittsburgh on 30 October 1941. In 1942 the company moved from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. Over the next 21 years it performed a repertory that, in addition to ...


Bonnie E. Fleming

(b Harrisburg, PA, March 2, 1921; d Westport, CT, Sept 16, 2017). American singing actress, producer, stage director, and teacher. Possessing a wide range of performing skills, she was known for undertaking challenging operatic roles such as Birdie and Regina in Mark Blitzstein’s Regina (1949, 1953, and 1958) and Lizzie in Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (1965). She worked on Broadway, in light opera, on radio and television, and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Lewis attended Penn State University and was encouraged by its Glee Club director to audition for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she went on to study with Emilio de Gogorza. After her teacher suddenly left the Institute, Lewis auditioned and made her debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 19 in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. A remarkably quick study, Lewis absorbed music and words in any language almost on the spot, a gift to which she attributed most of her early success. In ...


(b London, Nov 14, 1871; d London, Oct 11, 1937). English singing teacher and impresario, son of the composer-singer of the same name and brother of the conductor Landon Ronald. After attempting to become a singer he succeeded as a teacher, helping Eleonora Duse, among others. At the request of the manager of the S Carlo opera house in Naples he mounted a Covent Garden season in 1904 (using the S Carlo name) for the soprano Rina Giachetti, supported by some of the finest male singers of the day; however, this failed, as did a 1905 season of operas and plays with Duse. Russell then organized gruelling ‘San Carlo Opera Company’ tours of the USA, first of Don Pasqualewith his mistress, Alice Nielsen, then a more ambitious one with the failing Lillian Nordica and the tenor Florencio Constantino. This led to his being invited by a Boston backer to become the manager of the new Boston Opera House, which he ran with fair success from its opening in ...