Lillian Nordica

Lillian Nordica

Farmington, Franklin County, Maine, USA
Death 10 May 1914 (aged 56)
Cirebon, West Java, Indonesia
Burial Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, USA
Plot Cremated remains in family plot
Memorial ID 73344427 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Opera Singer. One of the first American-born operatic stars, she was a leading soprano of the late 19th. century. Born Lillian Allen Norton she was raised initially in Maine and later in Boston; after study at the New England Conservatory of Music she made her professional debut with Boston's Handel and Haydn Society. Lillian traveled to Milan for further training and in 1879 made her operatic bow at the Northern Italian city of Brescia; around the time of her debut a conductor gave her the name 'Giglia Nordica' ("Lily of the North") as he thought she needed a 'European' name, though ultimately she kept her own first name. She was to refine her art in increasingly important venues, making her debut at Covent Garden, London, in 1887 and at New York's Metropolitan Opera, where she remained until 1910, in 1891. In 1894 she was personally chosen by Cosima Wagner to sing Elsa in what were to be much praised performances of Wagner's "Lohengrin" at Bayreuth. Over the years her list of roles included the title Irish Princess of Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" and Brunnhilde of his "Ring Cycle", at least three of Verdi's ladies including the Ethopian Princess "Aida", the tragic Violetta of "La Traviata", and Leonora from "Il Trovatore", La Contessa Almaviva of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" and Donna Elvira from the same composer's "Don Giovanni", and the title leads of Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" and Ambrose Thomas' "Mignon". Popular with fans, Lillian even posed for 1905 "Coca Cola" advertisments the originals of which are now quite valuable. In spite of her professional success Lillian's personal life was miserable, including one marriage that resulted in divorce and two more that were unions on paper only, one ending at her husband's death and the other at her own. Eventually her health and voice were damaged by overwork; she died on the Island of Java of pneumonia, a late effect of hypothermia suffered in a shipwreck. Late in her career she cut recordings for Columbia which have been preserved on CD along with some of Lionel Mapelson's cylinders from the Metropolitan. Today her Farmington, Maine, birthplace is a museum while the Lillian Nordica Auditorium at the University of Maine, Farmington, is said to be haunted by her ghost.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



How famous was Lillian Nordica?

Current rating:

28 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 14 Jul 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 73344427
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lillian Nordica (12 Dec 1857–10 May 1914), Find a Grave Memorial no. 73344427, citing Bayview-New York Bay Cemetery, Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .