Colorado Opera Luminaries

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Opera Singer


Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954)

Harry Lawrence FreemanThe first opera by an African-American, Harry Lawrence Freeman, was composed and produced in Denver. Freeman, born October 9, 1869, in Cleveland, OH, was a child pianist, and an assistant church organist at age 12. Freeman lived in Denver from 1891 to 1893 and it was there in March, 1891, that he attended a performance of Tannhäuser by Emma Juch's opera company at the Broadway Theater. Experiencing that opera inspired him to compose music, and he arose in the middle of that same night to create his first piece, a waltz song. In December 1892 he began composing his first opera, Epthelia. a romantic opera. It was premiered by a cast of sixty at the Deutsches (German) theater in Denver on February 9, 1893. His second opera, The Martyr, about an Egyptian nobleman put to death for accepting the religion of Jehovah, was premiered by the Freeman Grand Opera Company at the Deutsches theater in Denver, August 16, 1893. The same company presented The Martyr in Chicago in October, 1893 and in the German Theater of Cleveland, OH, in 1894.

Of the no less than fifteen operas Freeman completed, only some have been performed. Valdo (1895), a tragedy named after his son, was performed at Weisgerber's Hall in Cleveland in 1906. Scenes from his fourth opera, Nada (1898, later revised and entitled Zuliki), was performed by the Cleveland Symphony in 1900. African Kraal (1903), a Zulu opera, was performed at Wilberforce University by a group of African students enrolled there. The Plantation (1914), a Negro grand opera, was performed at Carnegie Hall in 1930. Vendetta (1923), about the rivalry between a nobleman and a toreador for a woman's love, was presented at the Lafayette Theater in Harlem, and The Flapper (1929), at the 52nd Street Theater in New York. Voodoo (1928), considered by some to be Freeman's best-know work, dealing with cultic practices in Louisiana, premiered on New York radio station WGBS, and later was presented, with an all African-American cast of 30, in a tent theater at Palm Garden in New York's Broadway district. The Voodoo score combines themes from spirituals, Southern melodies, jazz rhythms, and traditional Italian operatic forms. At New York's Steinway Hall in 1930, Freeman accompanied at the piano a performance of excerpts from The Martyr, The Prophecy, The Octoroon, Plantation, Vendetta, and Voodoo. In several of his opera productions, Freeman's wife, Carlotta, and his son, Valdo, a baritone, sang principal roles. Among the Freeman operas that have not had a complete performances are The Octoroon (1902), The Prophesy (1911), and Leah Kleschna (1931).
Freeman et al
Composing operas, Freeman's grand passion, was not a sustaining profession for this talented musician, so to earn a livelihood, he wrote stage music and served as musical director for vaudeville and musical theater companies in the early 1900s, including Ernest Hogan's Musical Comedy Company, of which Carlotta Freeman was the prima donna, the Cole-Johnson African-American musical theater company, the stock company at the Pekin Theater in Chicago, the first legitimate black theater in the United States, and the John Larkins Musical Comedy Company, the first legitimate road show to play the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. He was guest conductor and music director of the pageant, "O Sing a New Song," at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934.

Freeman studied theory under J. H. Beck, conductor of the Cleveland Symphony, and piano with I. Schonert and Carlos Sobrino. He was director of the music program at Wilberforce University in 1902 and 1903. Around 1908 he moved to Harlem. In 1920, Freeman opened his own New York music school, the Salem School of Music on 133rd St., and later the Freeman School of Music on 136th St. Also in 1920, he founded The Negro Grand Opera Company. During the 1920s and 1930s he received numerous awards, including the prestigious Harmon Foundation award in 1929 for achievement in music. Freeman died of a heart ailment at his home, 214 West 127th Street, New York, March 24, 1954. He was interred in Mount Hope Cemetery. Carlotta Thomas Freeman, his wife, died three months later. She was born in Charleston, SC, entered show business in 1905 with a road company, and made her first stage appearance in 1912 as one of the first African-American women in the legitimate theater. Among her husband's operas in which she starred were Vendetta, Voodoo and The Martyr. Valdo (1900-72), the Freemans son had his own opera company, the Valdo Freeman Grand Opera Company, based in New York, in the 1920s. Valdo Freeman died in New York in 1972.

Several sources agree that Freeman's first two operas were presented at the Deutsches Theater, later known as the German Theater, which was in a Turnhalle (Turner Hall) of the Denver Turnverein (German athletics club). There were two such halls at the time, East Turnhalle at 2132-2148 Arapahoe and West Turnhalle at 1314 10th Street. Freeman lived at 1646 Pennsylvania in 1891, 2612 Lawrence in 1892, and 2726 Welton in 1893. The latter two addresses were in the Five Points neighborhood and so was the East Turnhalle. Thus, it seems logical that the performances were, in fact, in East Turnhalle, which was only ten blocks from were Freeman resided in 1893 and seven from where he lived in 1892. East Turnhalle, opened in 1890, had two large ballrooms, each with a stage. The building was destroyed by fire in 1920. Several sources list September as the month "The Martyr" was performed; Valdo Freeman gave the date as August 16.

Jeanne Brola (1871-1956)

Jeanne BrolaJeanne Lane Brooks was born in Denver in January 12, 1871, the daughter of Brig. Gen. and Mrs. Edward J. Brooks. She studied under her sister, Madeline Vance Brooks, and then under the French voice teacher Juliani, and studied opera acting under Jean de Rezke. Jeanne, as prima donna, toured the United States with the Henry W. Savage's Castle Square Opera Company, debuting in Cavalleria Rusticana on September 23, 1903.
Janne Brola
She went to Europe for further study, and when she made her European debut, singing in Aida in Paris, she took the name of Jeanne Brola. In 1909 she made her debut at La Scala in Italy in Samaras' Rhea, the first American diva to perform there. She received acclaim for her interpretation of various Wagnerian roles, including Eva in Die Meistersinger, Elsa in Lohengrin, and Elizabeth in Tannhäuser. Brola also was lauded for her Verdi roles, and later was known for her interpretation of Puccini heroines. In 1911, Puccini chose Jeanne for the role of Minnie in the English premiere at Covent Garden of The Girl of the Golden West. Later she sang with the Beecham Opera Company under the direction of Sir Thomas Beecham, who classed her among the six greatest interpreters of Tosca of all times. Jeanne was Tosca at the Shaftsbury Theatre in 1915, the first time the opera had been sung in English in London. In 1919 she starred in La Bohème at the Royal Opera House in London. Brola sang 39 lead roles in Europe, including Marguerite in Faust, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Suleika in L'Africaine. She sang to acclaim at Paris Opera and the Grand Opera of Nice and went to Cairo where she sang Aida.

Brola returned to Denver in 1922 with her husband, John Harrison, who had been Professor of Voice at London's Royal Academy and one of the great voice teachers of Europe. They established the Brola-Harrison Voice Studios. She died September 7, 1956, at Sands House, a private sanitorium, after suffering from cancer. Madame Jeanne Brola-Harrison was 85. Services were held in St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, which her father helped found, and burial was at Fairmount Cemetery. She was survived by her sister, Madeline Vance Brooks of Denver.

Rose McGrew (1874-1956)

Rose McGrewBorn April 5, 1874, in Ottumwa, IA, Rose McGrew as a young girl moved to Denver where, when a senior in East Denver High School, she took a position as soloist in a church choir. Mme. Biana Bianci, a noted prima donna, heard Rose sing and told her mother she should go to Germany to study voice. Rose sailed from New York for Rotterdam on the Veendam June 30, 1894, with Mrs. Carlos Sobrino, with whom she was studying voice. She first went to Dresden where she studied with Natalie Haenisch and Von Kotzebue and then to Berlin for study with Zimmerman. In less than three years she had learned 12 operas. She was the prima donna in the Duke of Mecklenburg's Royal Theater in Schwerin for three years and in the Royal Theater in Hanover for three years. Rose returned to Denver for a visit in March, 1900, and gave a concert at the First Baptist Church on May 22. When she returned to Germany it was to go to Breslau where she was under contract for six years. In 1901 Rose married Alexander Schoenberg in Dresden. The New York Times for May 17, 1908, reported that in Breslau her repertoire was 52 operas. William, King of Prussia (the Kaiser), presented Rose with a certificate, giving her the Order of the Silver Laurel, dated February 27, 1906.

 By 1913 Rose McGrew had three daughters. In the summer of that year she was called home to Denver by her mother's illness. Her mother died soon after and she stayed to help her father reconstruct his home. By then, World War I had begun and it was dangerous to cross the Atlantic, so she began to sing on the concert stage in New York and Denver. The Great War put an end to the Kaiser but not to Madam Rose McGrew. She accepted an invitation to sing in Portland, OR, at the Rose Festival. From 1920 until 1947 she was a member of the voice faculty, teaching opera singing, at the University of Oregon. All three of her daughters attended the University of Oregon. During World War II her eldest daughter, Rose, lived in Germany. Madam Rose's husband died in Germany in 1950. She died March 14, 1956 in Eugene, Oregon. Interment was at Rest Haven. Surviving were three daughters, Rose Rocholl of Hanover, Germany; Helga Hadsall of Eugene; and Bessie Varley of Bronxville, New York.

Tamara Vidos, Microfilms Department, University of Oregon, provided archival Oregon newspaper sources for this article.  The photograph is from the 1940 yearbook of the University of Oregon and was provided by Jan Ward of Eugene, OR.

Frances Rose (1874-1956)

Frances RoseLeopold Rosenzweig was born in Tomaszow, Poland December 1836 and died September 12, 1923 in Denver, CO, at age 86. He married Bertha Abelitzky in Sweden. Bertha was born May 10, 1843 in Kalvarija, Poland and died August 20, 1909 in Denver, CO, at age 66. Leopold and Bertha had several children in Sweden. He went to New York (probably 1868) and sent for his family who had gone to Hull, England. They probably arrived in New York on 4 July 1869. Among their later children was Frances Rose Rosenzweig, born in Elmira, NY in 1874. By 1888 the family had moved to Denver. Frances attended the public school of Denver, graduating from East High. She then studied in Cleveland and Vienna, where she received the offer of prima donna of the Breslau Opera in Germany. There she began using the professional name Frances Rose.

Frances sang leading roles in major European opera houses including Vienna, Berlin, Paris and London. She was engaged by the Berlin Royal Opera from about 1908 to 1912. She made a recording singing Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana for the Odeon label in Berlin in 1909 and she sang Clytemnestra in the Berlin premiere of Richard Strauss' Elektra at the Royal Opera on February 15, 1909. She became noted for her roles in the operas of Richard Strauss and gave a series of concerts at Breslau and Magdeburg with the composer. Her program included the finale of Salome under the composer's baton and a group of his songs with Strauss at the piano. On October 19, 1909 she sang the title role in Carmen with Enrico Caruso as her Don José when the Kaiser, the Kaiserin and Crown Prince were present at the Kaiser's Royal Opera in Berlin.

She married Theodore Konrad, a German from Cologne, March 16, 1910 in London, England, where she was singing in Elektra at Covent Garden, after which the newlyweds returned to Berlin. She was recruited by the Metropolitan Opera for the 1909-10 and the 1912-13 seasons, but she refused the offers because she wished to be with her husband in Europe. She was in the United States at the outbreak of World War I and could not return to Germany. When in 1915 she sang in the Chicago Grand Opera Company's production of Tannhäuser, it was stated that it was her American premiere.
Frances' husband, a tenor with the Swedish Royal Opera Company, died in London in 1921. She returned to the family home around 1936, after retirement, where she remained until her death at age 81 on April 30, 1956 in Denver. She was survived by two sisters and a brother, Sadie and Josie Rosenzweig, and Dan Rosenzweig. Her fame was not well known in her home town and she was interred quietly in Mount Nebo Cemetery in Aurora.

We found  no record of professional engagements in the interval from her appearance in Chicago in 1915 until her death. One might speculate that a singer who had been a favorite of the Kaiser and married to a German national may not have been welcomed on the American stage during the vitriolic anti-German years of World War I and for a time thereafter. By the time she died, there were few who remembered her greatness and the brief obituary in the Denver Post for Frances Konrad noted only that she was "a former opera singer" and "most of her life was spent in Vienna, Berlin and Paris."

Florence Lamont (1884-1964)

Florence LamontFlorence Lamont was born December 19, 1884, in Cass City, MI, to Canadian parents, and spent her early years in Ontario, Canada. She attended Harding Hall Girls' School in London, Ontario, and London Conservatory of Music. When she was 17 she contracted tuberculosis of the hip and came to Denver for her health. During 1904-16, she regained her health, continued her studies and engaged in professional singing and accompanying in Denver, New York and other U.S. cities. Florence sang in many local recitals and opera productions, including the title role in Mignon, the second production of Msgr. Joseph J. Bosetti's Cathedral Opera Company in 1916. At that time she was know by her married name, Florence Lamont Abramowitz. She later married, in Denver on June 26, 1924, Leroy R. Hinman, and together they founded in that year the Lamont School of Music, which became a part of the University of Denver in 1941. During her career, Florence lectured and taught music abroad and in many parts of the United States. In 1932, she was a voice teacher in the conservatory at Mondsee, Austria. She wrote articles for music journals and, in 1934, published a book, Slogans for Singers. In 1934, she co-founded the Denver Post Summer Opera and she conducted the operas during the first two years.

Florence was a former choral director of Central City Opera and a board member of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions for the Rocky Mountain region. Also, she was involved with the Lamont Singers, the Denver Symphony, the Treble and Bass Clubs, and the Opera Club. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from the Denver Conservatory of Music. She retired from the Lamont School administration in 1953 but continued teaching singing there as a Professor Emeritus. Among her successful students were Frank Dinhaupt (later Francesco Valentino), Ina Rains (later Ina Souez), Agnes Davis, and Jean Dickenson. Florence Lamont Hinman died October 3, 1964 in St. Luke's Hospital in Denver after a long illness. LeRoy died May 20, 1967 in Denver.

The photograph of Florence Lamont was provided by Victoria Brandys, Lamont School of Music, University of Denver.

Joseph J. Bosetti (1886-1954)

Joseph J. BosettiJoseph Julius Bosetti was born in Milan on New Year's Day, 1886. Educated in Italy and in Switzerland, he became an avid skier and mountaineer as well as an enthusiastic student of both theology and the fine arts. An Alpine guide at the age of twenty, he was said to have scaled the 14,780-foot Matterhorn in twenty-one hours. After his ordination, Father Bosetti taught philosophy for three years at the Bethlehem Institute in Switzerland. Then, in 1911, he agreed to missionary work in Colorado. First assigned to organize a parish in Welby, a small community of Italian farmers just north of Denver in Adams County, Bosetti subsequently was appointed assistant pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception after its completion in 1912. There he organized a large, male choir trained in classical music. (He also founded the St. Malo summer camp for choir boys near Allenspark.)
Joseph J. Bosetti
In 1915, Monsignor Bosetti staged Cavalleria Rusticana at the Auditorium, with his choir as the core of singers, the first production of the Cathedral Grand Opera Company. The next year he produced Mignon and then Romeo and Juliet in 1917. In 1922 Bosetti collaborated with another priest, McMenamin, in the production of an original operetta, Bethlehem, staged at the Broadway Theater. The two priests later formed the Denver Grand Opera Company, with Bosetti as the director and McMenamin as the business manager. Their first production was Mignon in 1933 at the Auditorium. From then on, for the next 18 years the Denver Grand Opera Co, every spring in the Auditorium, performed an opera (two operas were produced in 1935, one in the spring and one in December), with a mix of stars from major opera houses and local talent (Dorothy Kirsten was Marguerite in the 1949 Faust production). Among Msgr. Bosetti's Colorado protégés were Francesco Valentino and Jean Dickenson.

The final production of the Denver Grand Opera Company was La Traviata  in 1951. The legendary company folded when Bosetti's health failed. He died at age 68 on January 22, 1954, in Denver's St. Joseph Hospital.

The photographs in this article were provided by the archivist of the Archdiocese of Denver. See Performances 1901-1930 and 1931-1950 at the Opera and Opera Houses of Old Colorado website for listings of Bosetti's opera productions.

Eleanor Painter (1891-1947)

Eleanor PainterBorn 12 September 1891 in Walkerville, now an abandoned town, Page County, Iowa, Eleanor Painter was sent, as a young child, to Colorado Springs from her home in Omaha. At age six, when singing in a cantata, her voice cracked on a high note, and she did not try singing again until 7 years later. An anecdote relates that at age 15 she was riding a bronco pony on a road in Colorado Spring and singing a popular air. She was stopped by two women who asked her name and if she would like to study singing. One of these women was Mme. Esperanza Garrigue, a New York vocal teacher, and she and her sister, Alice Mott, started Eleanor on her studies. She sang in a church choir and studied for a year in Colorado, and then friends sent her to New York to study. After a year and a half in New York, with financial support from a Colorado friend, she went to Berlin in 1912 to study singing. She made her debut in Madama Butterfly at the Charlottesburg Opera House in Berlin where for 2 years she sang leading roles in Carmen, Butterfly, Faust and La Bohème. Eleanor acquired a husband around the time of her Berlin debut, for a December 1912 report in a Colorado paper states "Mrs. Eleanor Painter Schmidt... contralto prima donna, scored a brilliant success as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro at the new Deutsche Opera in Charlottesburg." She sang Musetta in La Bohème at Covent Garden in 1913.

In Berlin she had attracted the attention of Andreas Dipple, who signed a contract with her at Carlsbad in July 1914 to sing with his New York light opera company. Eleanor debuted with the Dipple Opera Comique Company at the Forty-fourth Street Theatre October 28, 1914, as Georgine in Charles Cuvillier's The Lilac Domino. Her performance was rated a triumph by the New York Times reviewer. Chiffon GirlIn another Times article she is described as "slim, dark, pretty, and as graceful a prima donna as you would find in many and many a moon." Eleanor was divorced by Wiehrem Schmidt in Colorado Springs in 1915. In 1915 and 1916, at the Cort Theatre, she starred in The Princess Pat, written by Victor Herbert for her. The New York Times review of the debut September 29, 1915, stated "Her singing, her dancing, and her acting all captivate."

Alarmingly, a report widely published in Colorado newspapers in March 1916 reported: "According to word received by friends in Colorado Springs, Eleanor Painter of that city, who has been starring in Princess Pat in New York, is suffering from a nervous breakdown and is now in a sanitarium in White Plains, N.Y." However, she must have made a good recovery, for on May 2, 1916 she married Louis Graveure, baritone, at her brother's home in Brooklyn. The announcement in the Times noted that Eleanor had been married before. Also, it relates this about Mr. Graveure: "When he arrived in New York last Fall, his striking resemblance to Wilfred Douthitt, a baritone, who made his debut here last year in The Lilac Domino... caused the story to spread that M. Graveure and Mr. Douthitt were one and the same person. This M. Graveure emphatically denied, asserting that he was Belgian by birth and had never sung in this country. Mr. Douthitt dropped out of sight at the end of last season and it was understood that he had gone to England to join his regiment. When M. Graveure gave his first recital, those who had heard Mr. Douthitt the year before were convinced that the singers had merely changed names. The fact the Miss Painter was the prima donna of The Lilac Domino strengthens the theory."

Between 1917 and 1927 Eleanor starred in a series of plays, plays with music, operettas and operas, mostly in New York. Among them were Friml's operetta, Glorianna, which had been fashioned for Eleanor, revivals by the Schuberts of Floradora and The Nightingale, Oscar Strauss' The Last Waltz, and an operetta, The Chiffon Girl. Reviewers of her performances were uniformly laudatory. One opined, "Thanks no doubt to her long experience in grand opera, the music offers little difficulty and she sustains her part consistently well..." In 1924 the Butterfly she sang in Berlin was highly praised. She sang Carmen in 1928 and Butterfly in 1929 with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company. In 1930 Eleanor Painter divorced Louis Graveure in Los Angeles. She then married Charles H. Strong, president of Taylor's Cleveland department store in 1931. She authored Spring Symphony, an historical novel, published by Harpers in 1941, the story of Robert and Clara Schumann. She had researched her subjects for 3 years before writing this remarkably insightful book that became a best seller. Eleanor was prima donna of the San Francisco and Philadelphia opera companies at the time of her death in Cleveland 3 November 1947.

Agnes Davis (1902-1967)

Agnes Davis 1Born on May 11, 1902 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Agnes Davis attended grammar and high school in Colorado Springs and then studied at Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley. Coming to Denver, she taught physical culture in the public schools and never thought of a singing career until she won a local prize of $500. It was then that she started to study music in earnest with Florence Lamont Hinman, and sang locally in hotel dining rooms, theaters and churches. Sponsored by the Denver Post, she won first place in the 1927 Colorado and western states division of the Atwater Kent radio singing competition, and then was named the best female amateur singer in the United States. The Grand Prize she won in New York City was a gold medal, $5,000 and two years of free tuition.

Agnes went to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and studied there for five years, graduating in 1934
. Agnes Davis 2She toured with Columbia Concerts from 1934-49 and taught at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music from 1949-50. In June 1935, she sang before the Queen and King of England at the Coronation Silver Jubilee in London. This was followed by several concerts in Denmark. While  in the British Isles she visited a lifelong friend, Ina Rains (see Ina Souez below) who had been singing in Europe for a number of years. Additionally, Agnes spent three years touring across several continents with the U.S.O. from 1943-1945.

She debuted with the Metropolitan Opera in 1937 as Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin. In the course of her career she sang several roles in operas such as Strauss' Rosenkavalier, Verdi's Falstaff, and Wagner's Parsifal, and sang under the direction of Fritz Reiner, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy and Otto Klemperer. When Walter Damrosch presented his revised opera Cyrano with the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York at Carnegie Hall in 1941, he chose Agnes Davis as Roxanne.

In 1938 Agnes returned home to sing in a concert at the Auditorium with the Denver Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Horace E. Tuerman. She also sang with the Denver orchestra, directed by Saul Caston, at a Red Rocks Music Festival concert in 1949.

Agnes enjoyed a notable career teaching voice at the Indiana University School of Music from 1950 until her death in 1967. During her tenure at Indiana, Agnes took two sabbaticals to research vocal teaching methods in Europe and Australia. In 1963 she was promoted to the rank of professor.

Davis was married to a fellow singer, Benjamin de Loache, a baritone she met in the Colorado Atwater Kent contest, from 1934 to 1946. In 1959 she married Herbert James Richardson, to whom she remained married until her death on October 10, 1967.

The upper left photograph of Ms. Davis was provided by archivist John Pennino of The Metropolitan Opera of New York.

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Ina Souez (1903-1992)

Ina SouezIna Souez, the celebrated soprano of Glyndebourne festival fame, was born Ina Rains June 3, 1903, in Windsor to a family of Cherokee descent.

She graduated from the Lamont School of Music in Denver where she was a pupil of Florence Lamont Hinman. Ina greatly impressed Denver audiences with her singing abilities, and in 1926, The Denver Post sponsored a Farewell Gala Concert at the Auditorium to raise funds for her travel to Milan, Italy, for further study. The advice of the several opera impresarios there was that she needed no additional study of vocal technique. Their opinion was that hers was a naturally placed voice backed by a prodigious technique and that she should concentrate on the coaching of operatic roles. Ina proceeded to coach with Ernesto Cadore (La Scala, Milan) and Alberto Conti (San Carlos, Naples). Her talent for learning a new opera role every month soon brought her to the attention of many of the smaller Italian opera houses. In two years, she had sung and mastered the roles of Mimi (La Bohème), Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), Marguerite (Faust), Leonora (II Trovatore), and the leading soprano roles in Mefistofele, Pagliacci and Andrea Chenier. She was then engaged at the Teatro Massimo (Palermo, Sicily) for six months. Upon completion of her contract there, Miss Souez went to Paris to study the French repertoire.

While in Paris, Ms. Souez was engaged to sing at the London Promenade Concerts under Sir Henry Wood's baton. These concerts brought her to the attention of the English music world and were the beginning of her singing career in that country. Her quick study talents and habits stood her in good stead and she learned the role of Liu (Turandot) on thirty-six hours notice. Her performance of that role, during the Gala Coronation season, made her name a "household word." The Turandot for these Covent Garden performances was Dame Eva Turner who became her life-long friend.

With Sir John Barbarolli, Sir Thomas Beecham, and Sir Malcolm Sargeant, Miss Souez sang concerts all over the British Isles for the next two years. When she returned to Covent Garden, it was to sing Micaela in the history-making Conchita Supervia-Thomas Beecham performances of Carmen.

These performances brought the young soprano to the attention of Dr. Fritz Busch who was just then creating and establishing the Glyndebourne festival. He saw and heard Ina Souez as the perfect Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) and Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte) for his productions. From its inception, that conductor, his company and Miss Souez became a part of music history. The soprano was the leading Prima Donna of the Festival for six years and recorded both the Don Giovanni and the Cosi fan tutte. These superlative recordings of the Mozart operas are recognized as definitive.

Ina Souez; Don GiovanniIna Souez came back to Denver in 1938 to sing in a Homecoming Concert at the Auditorium where she received a warm reception for her splendid program. A reception followed the next day in Windsor where she was fondly greeted by family and friends.

The Souez performances of the Verdi Requiem with Jussi Bjoerling, Kirsten Thorborg and Dr. Busch conducting, which were performed all over Scandinavia, became one of the most sought after musical events of the season. World War II cut off projected plans for a recording of the work with this stellar cast and forced Miss Souez to return to the United States. She served in the U. S. Army WACS and when duty permitted, sang many concerts and orchestral engagements for Special Services. In 1946 she sang excerpts from Berg's Wozzeck with the Janssen Symphony of Los Angeles.

When her voice began to lose its luster and she was trying to decide how to support herself, Spike Jones asked her to join his City Slickers. Her second career blossomed through the 1950s. In a typical act, one of Jones' zany musicians would reach into her huge hat while she was singing and pull out pigeons. When Jones waned in popularity, Souez moved to San Francisco to teach, and then to Los Angeles. She also helped judge regional auditions for the Metropolitan Opera. Her students appeared on the rosters of opera houses in Europe and America. She made herself available for master classes at major music schools and universities. She specialized in the subjects of singing Mozart and the Italian opera repertoire.

Souez married once but divorced before World War II. She died at age 89 on December 7, 1992 at the Santa Monica nursing home where she had lived the last eight years. There were no immediate survivors. A memorial service was held at the Hollywood First Methodist Church.

Ina's first cousins, William Rains of Pueblo and Robert Rains of Fort Collins, provided materials for this biography. The photographs of Ms. Souez are from the Walter Lonis collection at the Windsor Museum.

Francesco Valentino (1907-1991)

Francesco ValentinoFrank Valentine Dinhaupt was born in New York, but came to Denver with his parents when he was 11. He was a choir boy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, under the direction of Monsignor Joseph J. Bosetti, and graduated from Regis High School. He studied voice with Florence Lamont Hinman. In 1926, sponsored by a prominent Denver woman, he went to Milan, Italy and, a year later, made his operatic debut in Parma under the name Francesco Valentino, in the role of Giorgio Germont in La Traviata.

Throughout the 1930s he sang baritone roles in major European opera houses, including La Scala and Glyndebourne (notably as Macbeth, 1938-39). Loyal to his mentor, Bosetti, he returned to sing with the Denver Grand Opera Company in 1935, La Traviata; 1946, Il Trovatore; and 1948, The Barber of Seville; and he was at Central City for six seasons-- 1946, La Traviata; 1950, Madama Butterfly; 1951, Romeo and Juliet; 1951, Amelia Goes to the Ball; 1952, The Marriage of Figaro; and 1954, Faust.

Valentino began singing with the Metropolitan Opera in 1940, where he appeared in 26 different roles during the next 21 seasons, never missing a scheduled performance. He also sang with the San Francisco Opera and in concerts with orchestras, among them Toscanini's. After his retirement from singing in 1962, Valentino joined the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where he taught for 15 years.

He died in Fairfax, VA, at age 84 in 1991. He was survived by two daughters, Marion Newman of Hermitage, Tennessee, and Judith Sardella of Fairfax, Virginia, six grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

The photograph of Mr. Valentino was provided by archivist John Pennino of the Metropolitan Opera of New York.

Josephine Antoine (1908-1971)

Josephine AntoineJosephine Louise Antoine was born Oct 27, 1908 in Denver and adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur H. Antoine. By 1914 her family had moved to Boulder. In 1921 she began studying voice with Alexander Grant, a faculty member at the University of Colorado. He remained her teacher until she graduated from the University of Colorado in 1929. That same year she won the Colorado Atwater Kent Audition Contest which provided her with scholarship money and the opportunity to study at an East Coast conservatory.

Josephine Antoine 1948In 1930-31 she was at Curtis, and from 1931-34 studied at Juilliard under the direction of Marcella Sembrich. In 1935 Josephine signed with the Metropolitan Opera Company and on January 4, 1936 made her premier lead role performance as Philine in Mignon. Her career with the Met lasted through 1948. During this period she also sang for other opera companies including the Chicago Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Cincinnati Opera and the Chautauqua Opera. She sang concerts at the Denver Auditorium in 1936 and 1945.

She also starred in The Bartered Bride in Central City in 1940 and in The Red Mill for the Denver Post Opera at Cheesman Park in 1949. In 1948 she returned to Boulder to sing for the Colorado Memorial Center fund. She was the wife of Edward Hinkle, program director of a radio station in Boulder. Their daughter was born in Boulder in 1949.

After a successful opera career she taught at Indiana University (1947-48), University of Colorado (1948-49), Los Angeles Conservatory (1950-53), University of Texas (1953-57), Arizona State University (1959-66), and at Eastman School of Music (1957-59, and 1966-71).

On October 30th 1971 she died of heart failure in Jamestown, New York the day after her daughter, Myra Louise was married. At the time of her death she was a professor of voice at the Eastman School of Music. Josephine's collected papers were donated to Sibley Library of the Eastman School of Music in 1977 by her daughter Myra Hinkle Buchanan.

Jean Dickenson (1913-2007)

Jean DickensonJean Dickenson was born December 13, 1913, in Montreal, Canada, to U.S. citizen parents. Her mother, May F. Dickenson, was a noted writer, and her father, an engineer, was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia. As her father traveled abroad extensively in his profession, she lived in India and South Africa, as well as Canada and several places in the USA. Jean became a student at the Lamont School of Music of its founder, Florence Lamont Hinman, who took her to Mondsee near Vienna for a summer of intensive study while Mrs. Hinman was conducting classes there. She graduated from the University of Denver Lamont School of Music with honors.
Jean Dickenson
In 1932 Jean won the Colorado Atwater Kent Radio Auditions, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain News. She got her professional start singing on KOA radio in Denver, and then she was employed as the soprano on CBS radio's weekly Hollywood Hotel, which featured host Dick Powell, singer Frances Langford, and guest celebrity stars. With the Denver Grand Opera Company, she sang Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in 1934, Violetta in La Traviata in 1935 and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor in 1939. With the Denver Post Opera Company she was Gilda in selections from Rigoletto in 1934 and Lucia in selections from Lucia di Lammermoor in 1935. Jean appeared with the San Carlo Opera Company in 1937 at the Denver Auditorium in the role of Gilda in Rigoletto. At age 26, coloratura soprano Dickenson, made her Metropolitan debut January 26, 1940 as Philine in Mignon, with Risë Stevens in the title role, and subsequently appeared with the company in five concerts. She became a protégé of the celebrated opera star, Lily Pons. She became a regular performer 1937-51 on the NBC radio program, American Album of Familiar Music. A favorite of radio audiences, she was know as the "Nightingale of the Airwaves." She appeared in concert with the Denver and Milwaukee symphony orchestras, the Promenade Symphony Concerts, and the Little Symphony of Montreal. Jean sang numerous concerts throughout the United States and Canada under the management of the National Concert and Artists Corporation of New York.
Jean Dickinson died January 26, 2007. She was survived by her husband, Daniel Edward Marcy Jr., whom she married in 1942, just prior to his being sent overseas in World War II. In their retirement years, Jean and Daniel lived in Briarcliff Manor, New York. Their daughter, Cc Marcy Dwyer, resides in Garrison, New York.

Jean Dickenson graciously corrected the earlier draft of this biography and provided the accompanying photographs. This charming anecdote was related in a letter from her: "In the third act of La Traviata, when Alfredo throws the money at Violetta, and she falls back on a sofa, I was wearing a beautiful big hoop skirt costume. Alfredo throws the money, I fall back on the hoop, it flies up, I vanish completely. Wow! A "show" I will never forget!"