The Rosa Ponselle Foundation

Rosa Ponselle pictures

News Releases

August 1, 1999


Legendary operatic diva, Rosa Ponselle, who was recently commemorated on a United States postal stamp, is to be honored in her birth place of Meriden, Connecticut and in the birth place of her parents in Caiazzo, Italy with Museum dedications featuring her memorabilia in permanent collections.

Each of the collections are derived from Ponselle's "Villa Pace" estate in Maryland's Green Spring Valley where she resided in retirement from her celebrated career with the Metropolitan Opera Company. Both collections have been donated by The Rosa Ponselle Foundation in Baltimore which had previously gifted major portions of Ponselle's archival memorabilia and costumes to the New York City Public Library for the Performing Arts and to the Metropolitan Opera House.

The Meriden collection will represent paintings, silver, furniture, photographs, memorabilia and dress gowns; Ponselle's hand carved Baldwin piano and the "Villa Pace" foyer chandelier and matching sconces and her Music Room sconces. The Rosa Ponselle Museum will be situated on the main floor of the Dequaine Foundation Museum, which also features a barber shop museum and a rare milk glass collection. The Dequaine Museum, with its Ponselle collection, will serve as a cultural center presenting concerts, competitions, lectures, a gift shop and an indoor and outdoor cafe. The Museum which is three stories high is located in Meriden's newly revitalized cultural center and occupies the space of one square block.

A statue commemoration of Ponselle as Norma is projected to be erected at a future date. Ponselle was born in Meriden, Connecticut on January 22, 1897 and chose to retire in Baltimore following her marriage to Carle A. Jackson. She went on to coach or launch the careers of John Aler, Lili Chookasian, Placido Domingo, Raina Kabaivanska, Spiro Malas, Adrianna Maliponte, Sherrill Miles, James Morris, Samuel Ramey, Sheila Nadler, Will Parker, Leontyne Price, Louis Quilico, Beverly Sills and William Warfield.

The Caiazzo Museum to Rosa Ponselle will also serve as a lasting monument to her legacy and will feature items from "Villa Pace" which include paintings, a wall tapestry from her Music Room, photographs, gowns and various archival items representing her exemplary career. The Museum will be situated in a Castle owned by the City of Caiazzo and once occupied by Federico II during his stay in Caiazzo. The Castle was built by Count Roberto which dates back to the year 1116. The Castle with the Rosa Ponselle Museum shall also feature a room of Caruso memorabilia, as donated by the Enrico Caruso Foundation in New York City and Viareggio, Italy. The celebrated tenor was born a short distance from Caiazzo, and was instrumental in launching Ponselle's career. Caruso and Ponselle have been dubbed the King and Queen of Grand Opera of the 20th Century.

The celebrated tenor sang his last operatic performance with Ponselle at the Met in Halévy's LA JUIVE in 1921 shortly before his death in Naples. He is buried in Naples, while Ponselle, together with her sister, Carmela, is buried in Baltimore. The Castle, which is now under restoration, shall be administered by the Astra Catering Foundation in Caiazzo and shall include a hotel and restaurant. Each hotel room will commemorate and feature photos of great vocal artists of the 20th Century, with the main suites to be named for Ponselle and Caruso. The restaurant will feature the favored recipes of operatic greats of the 20th Century--a large collection of which will be donated by The Rosa Ponselle Foundation. Year round and summer programs will include a Rosa Ponselle-Enrico Caruso Operatic Competition for Young International Singers; a young vocal artists program in vocal instruction and coaching; extended master classes with celebrated Italian operatic greats; concerts; classes in Italian art, Italian language study; lectures, seminars, painting classes; ballet classes and performances; and gourmet cooking programs in the art of regional Italian cuisine. There will be programs for youngsters during the summer months in vocal training, painting, ballet, instrumental music and Italian language. The administration of the musical programs is to be coordinated in the United States under the artistic directorship of the Ponselle Foundation's President Elayne Duke. Instructors are to be selected from the U.S.A., Italy, Russia, France and Germany.

The opening for the Caiazzo Cultural Center will be in the year 2001. Caiazzo is near to the cities of Casserta and Naples.

The Rosa Ponselle Foundation shall be organizing tours from Baltimore to the Rosa Ponselle Meriden, Connecticut Museum and to the Caiazzo Cultural Center. It shall receive all inquiries and applications for the Competition and music programs in Caiazzo at its Baltimore offices. All inquiries must be by fax or hard copy. Please do not send e-mail.

For further inquiries, please contact:

Miss Elayne Duke
President and Administrative Director of
Competitions, Scholarships, Educational and
Opera Training Programs
The Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Stevenson, Maryland 21153-9999
Telephone: 410 486 4616
Fax: 410 486-0495


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Updated: 9/19/99
Copyright © 1999, The Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation
All rights reserved
Comments and questions can be directed to the Foundation

Copyright © 1999, The Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation
All rights reserved
Comments and questions can be directed to the Foundation