The Rosa Ponselle Foundation

Rosa Ponselle pictures

News Releases

February 1, 1996


Considered the definitive award-winning, Verdian scholar, a prolific biographer and lecturer on most of our immortal musical personalities, Mary Jane Phillips-Matz shall present a program of slides, film and recordings on Monday, March l8 at 2:00 P.M. at Goucher College's Kraushaar Theater; illustrating the life and unique career of Metropolitan Opera, dramatic soprano, ROSA PONSELLE, who is considered by many to have been the greatest of our American vocal artists

Dubbed a "Caruso in petticoats", Ponselle, the first of operatic history's completely trained American vocal artists to have sung a major role at the Met, without the benefit of European training or experience, made her debut at age 2l as the Leonora opposite Caruso's Don Alvaro in the Met's premiere performance of Verdi's LA FORZA DEL DESTINO. Ponselle, a well known vaudevillian from age l6, was performing in a sister act at the Palace with her own true life sister, Carmela, when she auditioned for Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera's general manager, Gatti-Casazza. Within five months of her audition, on November l5, l9l8, she stood on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, thus opening the doors for American-trained artists to make their debuts at the Met. During a l9-season career as the greatest Verdian singer of her day and reigning queen at the Met, her performances became legendary in such diverse repertoire as Bellini's NORMA, Spontini's LA VESTALE, Ponchielli's LA GIOCONDA, Halvey's LA JUIVE, Meyerbeer's L'AFRICAINE, Mozart's DON GIOVANNI and Bizet's CARMEN (among the 22 roles she sang). Her career ended abruptly, when at age 39 she married the son of Baltimore Mayor Howard Jackson, Carle A. Jackson and built her "Villa Pace" estate in the heart of Maryland's Green Spring Valley. Living out the remainder of her life until l98l,she devoted herself to training, nurturing and launching the careers of aspiring young singers such as Beverly Page Sills, Leontyne Price, Sherrill Milnes, James Morris, Placido Domingo, Spiro Malas, Raina Kabaivanska, Will Parker, Lili Chookasian and John Aler.

The Mary Jane Phillips-Matz lecture, which is open to the public at no charge (tickets are not required), will be one of the two centerpieces o the 5th Annual Rosa Ponselle "ALL MARYLANDERS'" Competition --the other being the "Winners Showcase" Concert (to which the public is also invited at no charge) featuring Metropolitan Opera mezzo Soprano, Blanche Thebom as Mistress of Ceremonies; guest artist, William Warfield and Laureates of the 4th Annual Rosa Ponselle "ALL MARYLANDERS'" and International Competitions.

Up to two tickets per person to the "Winners Showcase" Concert may be received by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

The Secretariat
The Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation "Windsor"
Stevenson, Maryland 2ll53-9999
Telephone: (4l0) 486-46l6 Fax: (4l0) 486-0495

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Updated: 2/26/97
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