Nash, Elizabeth 1934–

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Nash, Elizabeth 1934–

(Elizabeth Hamilton Nash)


Born July 13, 1934, in New Rochelle, NY; daughter of Allan B. and Renee Nash. Ethnicity: "Anglo-American." Education: Attended Barnard College, 1953-55; Columbia University, B.F.A., 1957, M.A., 1971; attended New England Conservatory of Music, 1958-59; Indiana University—Bloomington, Ph.D., 1975; Harvard University, certificate in arts administration, 1978; studied singing with Mary Ludington in New York, NY, 1947-58, 1970-71, Henny Schoener in Munich, West Germany, 1959-70, and Donald Hoiness at St. Olaf College, beginning 1977; trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, England, 1982-87. Religion: Christian Scientist.


Home—Edina, MN. Office—Department of Theater Arts, 580 Rarig Center, University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail—[email protected]


Pfalztheater, Kaiserslautern, West Germany (now Germany), coloratura soprano, 1961-62; Theater am Domhof, Osnabruck, West Germany, coloratura soprano, 1962-63; Landestheater, Detmold, West Germany, coloratura soprano, 1963-64; Hessisches Staatstheater, Kassel, West Germany, coloratura soprano, 1964-67; opera singer touring Europe, 1968-70; Indiana University—Bloomington, Bloomington, associate instructor in music, instructor at Opera Workshop and assistant opera stage director, 1971-74; University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, Minneapolis, began as assistant professor, became associate professor, beginning 1975, now professor of speech and singing for actors, head of acting program, 1986-89. Christian Science Monitor Radio Broadcasting, voice production coach and presentation stylist, 1975-90; Children's Theater Company, Minneapolis, leading singer and actress, 1979-80; teacher of master classes and lecturer in singing for actors in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Lecturer at colleges and universities, including University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, and Theaterhochschule Hans Otto, Leipzig, Germany.


National Association of Teachers of Singing, Voice and Speech Trainers Association, German Actors Equity Association.


Fulbright grant for Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Stuttgart, West Germany (now Germany), 1959-61; Bush Foundation fellowship, 1978; grant for Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, 1982-83.


Always First Class: The Career of Geraldine Farrar, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1981.

The Luminous Ones: A History of the Great Actresses, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1991.

Pieces of Rainbow (American studies), Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Sylvia Olden Lee) The Memoirs of Sylvia Olden Lee, Premier African-American Vocal Coach, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2001.

Autobiographical Reminiscences of African-American Classical Singers, 1853—: Introducing Their Spiritual Heritage into the Concert Repertoire, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2007.

Contributor to encyclopedias and dictionaries. Contributor to magazines, including Theatre Journal, Opera Quarterly, and American Legacy.


Elizabeth Nash once told CA: "I have always been fascinated by performing artists. Following my career as an American opera singer in Europe, I became a professor of speech and singing for actors at the University of Minnesota. Because research and publication are academic necessities, I chose historical biography as my area of specialization. This led to the writing of books on prominent actresses and opera singers.

"When Marian Anderson died in 1993, I learned that my students had never heard of her. I immediately asked my reference librarian and ethnic discographer colleague and friend, Patricia Turner, to present a lecture in this world-renowned African-American contralto for my classes. This led to a team-taught course titled ‘African-American Singers: The Classical Tradition,’ which introduced students to the distinguished African-American concert and opera singers who have performed the standard classical repertory since the 1850s. Because there is no published chronicle recording their artistic reminiscences, we decided to compile such a work. In addition to collecting written material, we obtained permission to interview two major twentieth-century trailblazers, Todd Duncan and Camilla Williams. In 1935, Mr. Duncan had been chosen by George Gershwin to create the male lead in his opera Porgy and Bess, and ten years later he was the first African American to perform with a leading American opera company, the New York City Opera. Then, in 1946, Miss Williams was the first African American to sign a regular contract with the same company.

"One evening, I happened to watch the videotape Baroque Duet, featuring Kathleen Battle, and was delighted to see Sylvia Olden Lee appear on the screen. I was so excited that I immediately wrote her an enthusiastic letter care of Miss Battle. Two weeks later the phone rang, and a familiar voice asked, ‘Where have you been all these years?’ ‘Struggling up the academic ladder,’ I replied, ‘while you've become a mega-star.’ ‘Well,’ she quipped, ‘I don't know about mega-star. Mega-mouth.’ The next day I told Patricia Turner about my phone call, and she exclaimed, ‘I know Mrs. Lee, too!’ Pat and I had known each other for twenty years and never realized that we both knew Sylvia Olden Lee. Since Mr. Duncan had consented to see us at his home in Washington, DC, we asked Mrs. Lee if we could visit her at Howard University to hear about her work with African-American classical singers. As we sat listening to her fascinating reminiscences, Patricia and I realized we had discovered an untapped vein of marching American musical history. This encounter led to fifty hours of taped interviews, master classes, and private coaching sessions in Washington, Boston, and Minneapolis, which resulted in the book The Memoirs of Sylvia Olden Lee, Premier African-American Vocal Coach."