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Johnson (Severns), Theodate  

Nadia Turbide

(b Cleveland, OH, Aug 13, 1907; d New York, NY, March 13, 2002). American soprano, music publisher, and concert manager. She studied singing with Ruth Thayer Burnham while attending Abbot Academy, Andover, and later at Wellesley College (BA 1929). After two years as an actress at the Cleveland Playhouse, she sang in Gabriel Pierné’s La croisade des enfants with the Cleveland Orchestra (1932). She was then coached by Eva Gauthier in New York and made her debut there in 1934 at Town Hall in the North American premiere of Handel’s solo cantata La Lucrezia. Three years later she sang Butterfly and Tosca with the Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp. After meeting Sibelius in Finland, she returned to the United States and introduced a number of his songs in concert (1938). During World War II Johnson escorted a convoy of refugees from Paris to Spain and as a result of the ordeal lost her voice. She joined the staff of ...


Sills, Beverly  

Peter G. Davis

[Silverman, Belle]

(b Brooklyn, NY, 25 May 1929; d New, York, NY, 2 July 2007). American soprano and administrator.

Her first singing appearance was at the age of three on commercial radio. When she was 11 she began serious vocal studies with Estelle Liebling and she made her operatic debut as Frasquita with the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company in 1947. For a few years she worked with touring opera companies, gave lieder recitals in the Midwest, and sang with the San Francisco Opera. In 1955 she joined the New York City Opera and became the company’s diva; but her full stature was not recognized until 1966 when she sang Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare. Her sensational success in this florid role (which she recorded) led to a series of bel canto revivals at the City Opera, including Donizetti’s trio of Tudor queens, Maria Stuarda, Anna Bolena, and Elizabeth in ...