Woman of the Century/Emma Albani
ALBANI, Mme. Emma, operatic singer, born in Chambly, near Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada, in 1851. Her maiden name was Marie Emma La Jeunesse. Her parents were French-Canadians, descendants of Frenchmen that settled in Canada long before the conquest. Her father was a musician, a professor of the harp, and he conducted her early musical studies. In 1856 the family removed to Montreal, where Emma entered the convent school of Notre Dame de Sacré Cœur. There she studied singing. In 1863, when she was twelve years old, she went on a starring tour with her sister. She made her first appearance in Albany, N. Y., and displayed the vocal and dramatic endowments that have since made her famous. In 1864 her family removed to Albany, where she was engaged to sing in the Roman Catholic cathedral. The bishop was so impressed by her talent that he urged her father to send her abroad for training. A public concert was given in Albany to raise money to enable her to go to Europe. Accompanied by her father, she went to Paris, remaining two years with the Baroness Lafitte, to study under Duprez, and next went to Milan, Italy, where she was trained by Lamperti. In 1870 she sang in Messina with success, and was at once engaged for Malta. She adopted the stage-name "Albani," in remembrance of Albany, whose citizens had been her generous friends and patrons. In 1871 she sang at the theater La Pergola, in Florence. Italy, where she created successfully the rôle of Mignon in Ambroise Thomas's opera, which had been condemned in four Italian theaters. In 1872 she made her first appearance in England, at the Royal Italian Opera in London, where she made an extraordinary success as Amina in "La Sonnambula." She strengthened her reputation by her presentation of Lucia, Marta, Gilda, and Linda. In November, 1872, she sang as Amina in Paris with marked success. She returned to London and was enthusiastically received. There she EMMA ALBANI. added Ophelia to her list of triumphs. In 1874 she revived Mignon. In the winter of 1874-5, she made a successful tour of the United States. In May, 1875, she was again in London, England, when she sang the rôle of Elsa in "Lohengrin," brought out by manager Gye in Covent Garden theater. In Nice, in 1876, she made a deep impression. In Paris she revived the fortunes of the Théâtre Ventadour by her rendition of Lucia and of Gilda in "Rigoletto." In 1877, in the Royal Italian Opera in London, she sang the rôle of Elizabeth in "Tannhäuser," scoring a great success in that majestic character. In August, 1878, she was married to Ernest Gye, the oldest son of Frederick Gye, director of the Royal Italian Opera in London, England. During the winter of 1878 she sang in the Imperial Opera in St. Petersburg, Russia, and afterwards in Moscow, Milan and Brussels, always with increasing popularity. In 1879 and 1880 she appeared in Covent Garden, London, as Gilda, Amina, Marguerite, Elvira, Elsa, Mignon, and Ophelia. In the last-named rôle she has no rival. In 1883 she sang in "Faust" and "Rigoletto" in Washington, D. C., and closed her operatic tour in Philadelphia in April of that year in "The Flying Dutchman." On 3d April, 1884, she sang in Gounod's "Redemption" in the Trocadéro, Paris, where that composer conducted his own work. In March, 1884, she sang in the Royal Opera house in Berlin. Her operatic career has been one long line of successes. Her voice is a pure soprano of great flexibility and wide range, and her dramatic powers are of the highest order. She is equally successful in concert and oratorio. Her repertoire includes most of the famous rôles. In May, 1886, at the opening of the Colonial Exhibition in London, she sang the ode written for the occasion by Tennyson. Among her acquaintances in Europe is Queen Victoria, who visits her at Mar Lodge, Albani's home in the Scotch Highlands, and meets her as a friend. Madame Albani-Gye is unspoiled by her successes.