History & Tourism

When Mansfield Welcomed: The World’s Greatest Coloratura Soprano

25 Aug , 2022  

By 1812Blockhouse

Mansfield music fans were in for a treat back in 1921 when someone billed as the world’s greatest coloratura soprano came to town to perform.

According to Wikipedia, a coloratura is a type of operatic soprano voice that specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills.

Her name was Amelita Galli-Curci, and she was a huge recording star in her day, recording exclusively for Victor records. Her native city was Milan, Italy, where she studied at the local conservatory.

The date was Sunday, April 2, 1921 and the venue was the Memorial Opera House, later the location for the Madison Theatre behind the Soldier’s & Sailor’s Memorial Building.

There was a substantial build-up for the event. The sponsor, the Mansfield Shrine Club, had brought the respected New York Chamber Music Society to Mansfield the month before.

Tickets for the Mansfield concert ran from $1.50 to $4.00. The concert consisted of Galli-Curci singing concert versus operatic selections, some of which were actually written by her accompanist, Homer Samuels. The two had been married just three months perviously.

For a taste of what Mansielders heard that night, a recording of Galli-Curci dating from 2019 is below.

It is perhaps not surprising that you likely have not heard of her, as she chose to concentrate on concerts versus operas after 1930, and was greatly impacted by nerve damage resulting from a 1935 surgery for removal of a thyroid goiter.

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