Ponselle, Rosa, 1897-1981

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1897-01-22
Death 1981-05-25
Americans
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish; Castilian

Biographical notes:

American soprano.

From the description of Rosa Ponselle collection of performances, recorded interviews, and films, 1926-1987. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 86164288

Rosa Ponselle was an American soprano whose real name was Rosa Ponzillo. Her sister Carmela Ponselle (1892-1977) was a mezzo-soprano.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1911-1981. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122576040

Rosa Ponselle was an American soprano. Kenneth Miller was a violinist who lived in Lawrence, Kansas.

From the description of Letters to Kenneth C. Miller and other papers, ca. 1922-1925. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144652348

From the guide to the Letters to Kenneth C. Miller and other papers, ca. 1922-1925, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981), American singer generally regarded as one of the great dramatic sopranos of the 20th century; sang at the Metropolitan Opera from 1918 to 1937.

Carmela Ponselle (1892-1977), Rosa's elder sister, a mezzo-soprano who sang at the Metropolitan from 1925 to 1935.

From the description of Rosa and Carmela Ponselle Music Collection, 1940-1975. (The Juilliard School). WorldCat record id: 465212945

Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981) was a noted American soprano, whose voice was famed for its opulent tone, breadth of range and interpretative warmth. She began studying music with her mother, an amateur singer. She and her sister, Carmela sang together under their real name, Ponzillo, in vaudeville shows in Pittsburgh and New York.

Her manager and voice teacher, William Thorner, introduced her to Caruso who arranged for her audition at the Metropolitan Opera. Her debut with the Metropolitan Opera was on Nov. 15, 1918, in the role of Leonora in La Forza del Destino, opposite Caruso. She was instantly successful, and her career took off from there. She went on to sing a variety of Italian opera roles at the Metropolitan.

Her last performance with the Metropolitan Opera was on Feb. 15, 1937 as Carmen. During her career, she sang 22 roles, performing 356 times with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and on tour. After retiring, she became active in social affairs.

From the guide to the Rosa Ponselle collection of performances, recorded interviews, and films, 1926-1987, (The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.)

Since Rosa Ponselle's career has been covered in depth elsewhere, most recently in the biography Rosa Ponselle: A Centenary Biography by James Drake (1997), only the outlines of her life are presented here.

Rosa Ponselle (born Ponzillo) was born in Meriden, CT, on January 22, 1897. She had her early training from her mother and appeared with her sister Carmela in vaudeville. She later took voices lessons with William Thorner, who introduced her to Enrico Caruso. Caruso paved the way for her Metropolitan Opera debut on November 18, 1918 in which she was cast as Leonora opposite the tenor in La Forza del Destino . Ponselle remained a mainstay of the company until her final performance in the title role of Carmen on February 15, 1937. Within a year she had retired from singing.

In 1936, Ponselle married Carl Jackson, son of a former mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. The couple moved to Baltimore, where Jackson built their home, "Villa Pace," located in Green Spring Valley. After their divorce in 1950, Ponselle began to be more active, teaching and becoming involved with the Baltimore Civic Opera as well as community life in Baltimore.

Rosa Ponselle died at Villa Pace, on May 25, 1981.

From the guide to the Rosa Ponselle papers, ca. 1911-1981, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Operas--Excerpts
  • Songs (High voice) with piano
  • Singers--Interviews
  • Songs (medium voice) with piano

Occupations:

  • Vocalists
  • Singers

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