Lawrence, Marjorie (Florence)

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Lawrence, Marjorie (Florence)

Lawrence, Marjorie (Florence), noted Australian soprano; b. Dean’s Marsh, Victoria, Feb. 17, 1907; d. Little Rock, Ark., Jan. 13, 1979. She studied in Melbourne with Ivor Boustead, then in Paris with Cécile Gilly. She made her debut as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser in Monte Carlo (1932), then sang at the Paris Opéra (1933–36), gaining success as Donna Anna, Aida, Ortrud, Brangäne, and Brünnhilde. She made her American debut at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. on Dec. 18, 1935, as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, where she quickly established herself as a leading Wagnerian on its roster; she also appeared as Alceste, Thaïs, and Salome. She also made guest appearances with the Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Cincinnati operas. An attack of polio during a performance of Die Walküre (1941) interrupted her career. While she never walked again unaided, her determination to return to the operatic stageled to the resumption of her career; her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera following her illness came on Dec. 27, 1942, when she sang the Venusberg duet in a concert with Melchior, reclining upon a couch. Her last appearance there took place when she sang Venus on April 6, 1944. She continued to make occasional appearances until her retirement in 1952, then devoted herself to teaching. She was a prof, of voice at Tulane Univ. (1956–60) and prof, of voice and director of the opera workshop at Southern III. Univ. (from 1960). She publ. an autobiography, Interrupted Melody, The Story of My Life (N.Y., 1949), which was made into a film in 1955.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Lawrence, Marjorie (Florence)

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