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Dame Emma Albani
Birth: Nov. 1, 1847
Chambly
Monteregie Region
Quebec, Canada
Death: Jun. 16, 1930
London
Greater London, England

Opera Singer. A soprano of wide repertoire, she sang the works of composers ranging from Mozart and Rossini to Wagner. Born Marie-Louise-Emma-Cecile Lajeunesse into a musical family, she was raised from a toddler in Plattsburgh, New York but returned to Montreal following her mother's 1856 death. Emma received an excellent basic education at the Sacred Heart Convent where her father was music master and on August 24, 1860 partnered with Adelina Patti in a performance of Charles Sabatier's "Cantata", but in her teens she relocated to Albany, New York to get more training, as the theatre was not considered a 'proper' vocation for a French-Canadian girl at that time. Desiring more advanced education, Emma studied at the Paris Conservatory with Gilbert-Louis Duprez then moved on to Italy where she took her stage name, choosing it partly because it sounded more 'European', as well as to honour the city of Albany. Her operatic debut came at Messina on March 30, 1870 as Amina in Vincenzo Bellini's "La Sonnambula"; following an audition with impresario Frederick Gye whose son she was to marry, she bowed on April 2, 1872 at Covent Garden, London, again as Amina. Until 1896 she was to be the house's reigning prima donna, singing 43 roles from 40 operas there and elsewhere, including Ophelia in Ambrose Thomas' "Hamlet", The Countess from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", Gilda in Verdi's "Rigoletto", Donna Elvira of Mozart's "Don Giovanni", Violetta from Verdi's "La Traviata", Rosina in Rossini's "The Barber of Seville", the title leads of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor", Thomas' "Mignon", and Charles Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette", and several Wagnerian portrayals including Elsa in "Lohengerin", Eva of "Die Meistersinger", Elisabeth from "Tannhauser", Senta in "The Flying Dutchman", and Isolde of "Tristan und Isolde". Seen throughout Europe, she made her first American tour in 1874, bowing at Chicago as Elvira from Bellini's "I puritani", then being heard in both opera and recital at Boston, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Albany, and Washington; that same year she gave the first of her many private concerts for Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. Kept busy at the various English festivals, she earned renown in oratorio, singing Mendelssohn's "Hymn of Praise", Handel's "Messiah" and "Theodora", Beethoven's "Engedi", and other works, while being congratulated for an 1886 performance of Franz Liszt's "The Legend of St. Elisabeth" by the great maestro himself. After singing three concerts at Queen's Hall, Montreal, Emma made her Canadian operatic debut at Toronto on February 12, 1883 as Lucia; first heard at New York's Metropolitan Opera with a touring company on March 24, 1890 as Desdemona from Verdi's "Otello", her November 23, 1891 'official' debut there was as Gilda. In June of 1896 she sang four Covent Garden performances as Isolde opposite the legendary tenor Jean de Reszke then on July 24th of that year bade farewell to the operatic stage as Valentine from Meyerbeer's "Les Huguenots"; after leaving Covent Garden, Emma continued singing recitals, toured Canada and the United States, sang at Queen Victoria's 1901 funeral, was in declining voice from around 1904, and retired following an October 14, 1911 performance at London's Royal Albert Hall. She settled with her husband in Kensington, but due to poor investments their final years were difficult, with Emma reduced to accepting charity, teaching, and even singing in music halls; England finally granted a pension in 1920, though both Canada and Quebec Province declined to contribute. Widowed in 1925, she found herself broke and in order to survive was forced to accept the proceeds of a number of benefit concerts. Dame Emma's honours were many: 1882 designation as Hofkammersangerin by Kaiser Wilhelm I after he heard her sing Elsa in German, which she had learned for the performance, at the Berlin Royal Opera, the "Beethoven Medal" from the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1897, and creation as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by King George V in 1925; a Canadian postage stamp commemorated the 50th anniversary of her death in 1980, and today two Montreal streets carry her name, while she is depicted in a stained glass window at Montreal's Place-des-Arts Metro Station. Her recorded legacy was small and was created in 1904 when her best years were behind her, though a portion of it has been preserved and remains valuable as a historical document. Acknowledging that Dame Emma would be neither the first nor the last pretty theatrical lady to lie about her age, and that baptismal dates were occasionally confused with birthdays, controversy concerning her date of birth remains: her tombstone reads "November 1, 1850", while her 1911 autobiography, "Forty Years of Singing", says "November 1, 1852". "Grove's Dictionary" gives the date listed above, which fits better into the timeline of the 1860 concert with Patti. Dame Emma is buried under her married name, Gye. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
 
Burial:
Brompton Cemetery
West Brompton
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Greater London, England
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Jun 25, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 54124755
Dame Emma Albani
Added by: Bob Hufford
 
Dame Emma Albani
Cemetery Photo
Added by: robert russell
 
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- Tom A. Hawk
 Added: Jun. 16, 2014

- Jackie Howard
 Added: Jun. 16, 2014
Wonderful life's story. Rest Well
- Jeannie
 Added: May. 1, 2014
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