Edith Mason


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(b St Louis, 22 March 1893; d San Diego, 26 Nov 1973). American soprano. She studied in Cincinnati, and in Paris with Enrico Bertran and Edmond Clément, making her début in Marseilles in 1911. She sang with the Boston Opera Company, with which she first appeared as Nedda (Pagliacci) in 1912, in Montreal (1912) and Nice (1914), and with the Century Company, New York (1914–15), before making her Metropolitan Opera début in 1915 as Richard Strauss's Sophie; she performed at the Metropolitan until 1917, singing Micaëla, Gretel and Musetta, took part in the première of Reginald De Koven's The Canterbury Pilgrims (1917), and performed again in the 1935–6 season. She was heard in Paris at the Théâtre du Vaudeville (1919–20) and later at the Opéra, where she sang Juliet, Charles Gounod's Marguerite and Gilda, and Opéra-Comique. At Monte Carlo (1920–21) she sang Thaïs, Salome (Hérodiade), Antonia, Marguerite de Valois and Butterfly. She appeared at La Scala as Mimì under Arturo Toscanini (1923), at Covent Garden (1930) as Martha, Juliet and Gilda; at Florence in 1933 and at Salzburg in 1935 as Nannetta (Falstaff). A long, important career at Chicago, where she was first engaged by Mary Garden, began in 1921; she was the first Chicago Sophie (1925) and Snow Maiden in Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, and also the principal interpreter there of Gilda, Gounod's Marguerite and Arrigo Boito's Margherita. She also played Jules Massenet's Thaïs, Elsa (Lohengrin), Fiora (in Italo Montemezzi's L’amore dei tre re), and, notably, Butterfly. Her stage appearances were marked by the natural beauty and easy production of her voice (amply confirmed in her recordings), her meticulous attention to the musical text, and the graceful restraint of her acting. She retired in 1939, after playing Desdemona to Martinelli and Tibbett, but in 1941 made a single reappearance in Chicago as Mimì. She was twice married to the conductor Giorgio Polacco.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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