Alda [Davies], Frances (Jeanne)
- Alan Blyth
(b Christchurch, May 31, 1883; d Venice, Sept 18, 1952). New Zealand soprano. After the death of her parents, she was brought up by her maternal grandparents in Australia. Her first engagements were in light opera at Melbourne. She then went to Paris and studied with Marchesi, who suggested that she adopt the name Alda; she also arranged Alda’s debut as Manon at the Opéra-Comique in 1904. After successful appearances at the Monnaie in Brussels (1905), Covent Garden (1906) and La Scala (1908), where she met Toscanini and Gatti-Cassazza, she was engaged by the Metropolitan (début, December 1908), where she sang until her retirement in 1930. In 1908 Gatti-Cassazza left La Scala to become director of the Metropolitan; he married Alda in 1910. Her pure, lyrical voice, technically almost faultless, was ideally suited to such roles as Gilda, Violetta, Desdemona, Manon (Massenet), Louise, Mimi and Cio-Cio-San. She created the leading soprano roles in Damrosch’s ...