Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

May 30, 2016

Bessie Abott (Soprano) (Heuvelton, New York 1878 - New York February 9, 1919)

After the early death of her father already in 1894 she appeared together with her twin sister Jessie Pickens in cabarets and vaudeville theaters in New York, where both girls sang duets. Then she became an operetta singer in New York and appeared since 1897 also in London in operettas. Here she heard in 1898 by the famous tenor Jean de Reszke, who encouraged her to turn to the opera. She studied under Victor Capoul and Mathilde Marchesi in Paris and made her debut in 1901 at the Grand Opéra in Paris as Juliette in ‘’Roméo et Juliette’’ of C. Gounod. During her appearance at the Grand Opéra in Paris she accepted the name Bessie Abott (after the family name of her mother). She sang there the following parts: Marguerite in ‘’Faust’’, Gilda in ‘’Rigoletto’’, the forest bird in the French première of R. Wagner’s ‘’Siegfried’’ (1901) and Zerline in ‘’Don Giovanni’’ (1902). In 1906 she was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Here she made her debut as Mimi in G. Puccini’s ‘’La Bohème’’ opposite Enrico Caruso. She sang in this house also Philine in ‘’Mignon’’, Gilda in ‘’Rigoletto’’, Juliette in ‘’Roméo et Juliette’’ and the principal role in ‘’Martha’’. She remained a member of the Metropolitan Opera till 1908 and also guested in Chicago and San Francisco. In 1909 she made guest appearances at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. She performed in the premiere of the opera ‘’Naristé’’ by Bellenot and Mimi in ‘’La Bohème’’. As a guest she sang also in St. Petersburg and Lisbon. In 1910 she traveled through North America with her own opera troupe. In 1912 she appeared at the Knickerbocker Theatre in New York in the operetta ‘’Robin Hood’’ of De Koven. In 1912 she married the sculptor and author T. Waldo story, a brother of the first husband of Emma Eames, and picked up her career. 

Chronology of some appearances

1901-1902 Paris Grand Opera
1906-1908 New York Metropolitan Opera
1909 Opéra de Monte-Carlo

Florence Macbeth (Soprano) (1889 - 1966)

After her education in New York and Paris she gave her first concert in Scheveningen (1912). The next year she participated in concert under Thomas Beecham in London. In 1913 she made  her stage debut at the Court Theater in Brunswick as Rosina in ‘’Il Barbiere di Siviglia’’. She guested at the Court Theater of Darmstadt, sang the part of Olympia at the Court Opera of Dresden in ‘’Les contes d'Hoffmann’’ (1913) and joined in 1914 to the Chicago Opera, where she remained (with an interruption in the 1916-1918 seasons) till 1930. She made her debut there as Rosina in ‘’Il Barbiere di Siviglia’’ and appeared with great success as Amina in ‘’La Sonnambula’’, Lucia di Lammermoor, Gilda in ‘’Rigoletto’’, Adina in ‘’Elisir d'amore’’, Martha, Ophélie in ‘’Hamlet’’, Micaela in ‘’Carmen’’, Mimi in ‘’La Bohème’’, Traviata, Eudoxia in ‘’La Juive’’ and Zerline in ‘’Fra Diavolo’’. In 1919 she sang in Chicago the role of Anna in the American première of A. Catalani’s ‘’Loreley’’. In the 1921-1922 season she took part in North American tour as a member of the Cosmopolitan Opera. Till 1931 she made guest appearances at the Ravinia festival, among other things in the 1928-1929 season with great success as Lisetta in G. Puccini’s ‘’La Rondine’’. In the 1927-1928 season she performed at the San Francisco Opera in ‘’Martha’’ and ‘’Il Barbiere di Siviglia’’, ‘’Fra Diavolo’’. After her retirement she was active as pedagogue. In 1950 she married the author James M. Cain.

Chronology of some appearances

1913 Brunswick Court Theater
1913 Dresden Court Opera
1914-1930 Chicago Opera


Columbia, New York 1916-04-07
Parla Waltz (Arditi) A5867 48684

Columbia, New York 1920-06-21
Linda di Chamounix (Donizetti): O luce di quest'anima  A6173 49848

Columbia, New York 1920-07-20
Carnevale di Venezia (arr Benedict) A6173 49868

Columbia, New York 1921-03-04
Rigoletto (Verdi): Caro nome A6189 49944

Columbia, New York 1921-10-06
Mignon (Thomas): Io son Titania (Polonaise) A6219 49993

Columbia, New York 1922-08-11
Kom Kjyra (Norwegian Echo Song) (Thrane) A3895 80523

Columbia, New York 1923-06-01
Pierrot (Roberts) 30003-D 81063

Olive Fremstad (Soprano) (Stockholm, Sweden 14 March 1871 - Irvington, New York 21 April 1951)

Her real name was Olivia Rundquist. Her father was a doctor. Already as a child she played the organ. At the age of ten she came t the USA and was adopted by an American ehepaar. Quite young she already appeared as pianist, then studied singing with E. F. Bristol in New York. In 1890 she sang in Boston the part of Lady Saphir in the operetta ‘’Patience’’ by Sullivan. In 1891 she gave her first professional concert at the Lenox Lyceum in New York. In 1893 she went to Europe and became a pupil of Lilli Lehmann in Berlin. She made her debut in 1895 at the Opera House of Cologne as Azucena in ‘’Trovatore’’. For five years she remained in Cologne and from there guested in Amsterdam and Antwerp and sang in 1896 also at the Bayreuth festival. In the 1900-1903 seasons she worked at the Court Opera in Munich. There she excited sensation in operas of Richard Wagner. In 1902 and 1903 she appeared at Covent Garden in London, where she had a huge success as Ortrud in ‘’Lohengrin’’, Brangäne in ‘’Tristan und Isolde’’ and in the English première of the opera ‘The Wood’’ by Ethel Smyth. At the Bayreuth festival of 1903 she performed in R. Wagner’s Ring-Zyklus. In 1903 she was engaged by the New York Metropolitan Opera (Debut: Sieglinde in ‘’Walküre’’). In 1906 she had a shining success at the Metropolitan Opera as Carmen. In 1907 she created there the part of Salome in the American première of R. Strauss’s opera ‘’Salome’’. She sang the same part also in 1907 at the Théâtre Châtelet in Paris. In 1910 she formed at the Metropolitan Opera in Gluck’s ‘’Armida’’ as a partner of with Enrico Caruso. At the Metropolitan Opera her repertoire included Brangäne, Fricka Brünnhilde in Nibelungenring, Elisabeth, Venus in ‘’Tannhäuser’’, Elsa in ‘’Lohengrin’’, Kundry in ‘’Parsifal’’, Santuzza in ‘’Cavalleria Rusticana’’and Tosca. In 1910 she made guest appearance at the Grand Opéra in Paris as Armide of Gluck under Arturo Toscanini. Guest performances led her also to the Operas of Chicago and Boston. In San Francisco she sang few hours before the disastrous earthquake of 18. 4. 1906 (Carmen as a partner of Enrico Caruso), however, both artists escaped of the physical disaster. In 1914 she left the Metropolitan Opera because of differences with the manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza. Her retirement from the Metropolitan Opera ended with an incomparable ovation. Since 1914 she gave a successful concerts in the USA. In 1918, with the ensemble of the Chicago Opera, she sang in Minneapolis again the part of Tosca. In 1920 her resignation concert took place at the Aeolian Hall in New York. Later she taught singing there. Her last years were clouded by a heavy rheumatische illness.

Chronology of some appearances

Santuzza 1/12/1904, Venus 1/26/1904, Fricka 3/7/1904, Sieglinde 3/8/1904, (Filadelfia) Carmen 2/7/1905, Sieglinde 12/19/1905, Carmen 2/20/1906, Venus (Filadelfia) 12/11/1906, Carmen 1/29/1907, Sieglinde 2/26/1907, Isolde 1/28/1908, (Filadelfia) Sieglinde 2/11/1908, Venus 3/10/1908, Brünnhilde 3/24/1908, Isolde 1/7/1909, (Filadelfia) Venus 2/16/1909, Fricka 3/4/1909, Floria Tosca 12/7/1909, Elsa von Brabant (Filadelfia) 12/14/1909, Isolde 1/4/1910, Sieglinde 2/8/1910, Kundry 3/8/1910, (Filadelfia) Venus 12/13/1910, Kundry 4/11/1911, Brünnhilde 11/10/1911, 1/16/1912, Elisabeth (Filadelfia) 11/19/1912, Isolde 11/20/1912, Venus 12/16/1913, Floria Tosca (Filadelfia) 2/10/1914 (Filadelfia).


Columbia, New York 1911-01-21
Tannhäuser (Wagner): Dich, teure Halle 30635 A5281
Tosca (Puccini): Vissi d'arte 30644 A5282

Columbia, New York 1911-01-30
Lohengrin (Wagner): Elsas Traum 30645 A5281

Columbia, New York 1911-01-31
Carmen (Bizet): Seguidilla 30646 A5282

Columbia, New York 1913-10-28
Walküre (Wagner): Ho-yo-to-ho A1451 39073 

Columbia, New York 1913-11-05
Walküre (Wagner): Du bist der Lenz A1451
Tristan und isolde (Wagner): Liebestod 30707 A5521

Regina Vicarino (Soprano) (New York 1885 - ?)

Chronology of some appearances

1908 Manhattan Opera Carmen (Micaela)
1910 Philadelphia Opera House Louise (Camille)
1910 Philadelphia Opera House Faust (Siebel)
1910 Philadelphia Opera House Faust Lakme (Rose)
1911 Philadelphia Opera House Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San)
1911 Boston Opera House Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia)
1916 Philadelphia Opera House Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia)


National Music Lovers
Rigoletto (Verdi): Caro nome 1031  19108-A