Homer, Louise (Dilworth née Beatty)

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Homer, Louise (Dilworth née Beatty)

Homer, Louise (Dilworth née Beatty), esteemed American contralto; b. Shady side, near Pittsburgh, April 30, 1871; d. Winter Park, Fla., May 6, 1947. She studied in Philadelphia and at the New England Cons, of Music in Boston, where she received instruction in harmony from the noted American song composer Sidney Homer (1864-1953), who later became her husband (1895). She then went to Paris to study voice with Fidèle Koenig and dramatic acting with Paul Lhérie, making her operatic debut as Leonora in La Favorite in Vichy (June 5, 1898). She made her first appearance at London’s Covent Garden as Lola in Cavalleria rusticana on May 9, 1899, and appeared there again in 1900; was also on the roster of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels (1899–1900). On Nov. 14, 1900, she made her U.S. debut as Amneris with the touring Metropolitan Opera in San Francisco, which role she sang at her formal debut on Dec. 22, 1900, with the company in N.Y. She remained on its roster until 1919, the 1914-15 season excepted. She was acclaimed for her interpretation of Gluck’s Orfeo in Paris in 1909, a role she repeated later that year at the Metropolitan Opera under Toscanini; she also created the roles of the Witch in Humperdinck’s Königskinder (Dec. 28, 1910) and of Mona in Parker’s opera (March 14, 1912) there. After singing with opera companies in Chicago (1920–25) and in San Francisco and Los Angeles (1926), she returned to the Metropolitan (1927), continuing on its roster until her farewell performance as Azucena on Nov. 28, 1929. She subsequently appeared in recitals with her daughter, the soprano Louise Homer Stires. In addition to Italian and French roles, she sang with great success such Wagernian roles as Brangäne, Erda, Fricka, Ortrud, and Waltraute. Her nephew was Samuel Barber.


S. Homer, My Wife and I (N.Y., 1939); A. Homer, L. H. and the Golden Age of Opera (N.Y., 1973).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire