Ribla, Gertrude

American soprano Gertrude Ribla (real name, Ribler, 1914-1980), who entered the field of international opera in an unlikely manner, ultimately enjoyed a varied and distinguished career as a soprano, and, later, as a music teacher.

A native New Yorker, Ribla did not come from a musical background, but first became interested in singing and acting as a student at Bryant High School in Long Island City. Ribla was working as a typist in 1935, when she entered a singing contest sponsored by a newspaper. She won in the contralto category, and, sponsored by Mrs. Alfred P. Sloan, she would study for three years with well-known soprano and vocal teacher, Frances Alda, who trained her to become a soprano. Ribla made her formal debut in 1938 and worked steadily throughout the 1940s. She toured North America extensively in numerous appearances with small opera companies, orchestra concerts, and on the radio, before finally achieving her major goal of performing at the Metropolitan Opera. Ribla had received another big break in 1943, when Arturo Toscanini selected her to be the soloist with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a special all-Verdi program he put together to mark the resignation of Benito Mussolini. Later in the decade, she worked with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, most notably in 1947 in a concert version of Alban Berg's Wozzeck. In May 1948, Ribla was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, earning a contract for the next season. She made her debut in 1949 in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida. Although she received favorable reviews, Ribla inexplicably was retained by the company for only the following season, in which she added parts in Il Trovatore and Die Wälkure. Noted for her dramatic, as well as her vocal abilities, Ribla continued to explore the standard repertory during the 1950s through numerous engagements with opera companies throughout the United States, as well as Cuba, Germany, and Italy. She also participated in modern works, including the world premiere of Rafaello de Banfield's one-act opera, Lord Byron's Love Letter (1955), which featured a libretto by Tennessee Williams, and she appeared frequently in recitals. With performance opportunities beginning to dry up in the early 1960s, Ribla turned to teaching, serving as an instructor at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri from 1961 to 1968 and becoming an associate professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis in 1968. She was on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music at the time of her death.


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2016-08-14 09:08:00 am

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2016-08-14 09:08:59 am

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