Louise Homer


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(b Shadyside, Pittsburgh, 30 April 1871; d Winter Park, FL, 6 May 1947). American contralto. She studied music at Philadelphia and Boston, then married the composer Sidney Homer in 1895 and went to Paris, where she studied singing and acting with Fidèle Koenig and Paul Lhérie, the first Don José. She made her operatic début at Vichy in 1898, as Léonor in La favorite. At Covent Garden in 1899 she sang Lola and Amneris, returning in 1900 for Ortrud and Maddalena after a winter season at La Monnaie in Brussels. Her American début (1900) was with the Metropolitan Opera on tour in San Francisco as Amneris, in which role she also made her first New York appearance. Homer began a long and successful Metropolitan career, singing chiefly in Italian and French opera, but she soon assumed leading Wagnerian roles; she was also a notable Orpheus in Arturo Toscanini's 1909 revival of C. W. Gluck's opera, created the Witch in Engelbert Humperdinck's Königskinder (1910) and was the first to sing the title role in Horatio Parker's Mona (1912). After resigning from the Metropolitan in 1919, she sang with other major American companies including the Chicago Grand Opera (1920–25) and the San Francisco and Los Angeles operas (1926). She returned to the Metropolitan in 1927 and made her last appearance there in 1929, as Azucena. A performer of great artistic integrity, she had a beautiful voice and a majestic stage presence. Among her many recordings the ensembles with Caruso, Martinelli, Gigli and others are particularly successful. Samuel Barber was her nephew.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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