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Donalda, Pauline


DONALDA, PAULINE (1882–1970), Canadian soprano, teacher, administrator. Donalda was born Pauline Lightstone in Montreal into a Jewishly active East European immigrant home. As a child she attracted attention for the quality of her voice and studied music on scholarship at the Royal Victoria College. In 1902 she went to Paris on a grant from Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona), after whom she adopted the professional surname of Donalda. She made her London debut at Covent Garden in 1905 singing Micaela under the direction of Andre Messager, her Canadian debut in 1906 singing with her husband (Paul Seveilhac) in the Montreal Arena, and her New York debut later that same year in Faust. In the spring of 1910 Donalda opened the Covent Garden season and returned in 1912 singing in both Les Huguenots and I Pagliacci, again with her husband. She was about to leave Canada for a European tour when World War i broke out. She remained in Canada, often giving benefit concerts in support of the war effort. In 1917 she returned to Paris, where she sang in Balfe's Le Talisman, sharing the stage with her new husband, Mischa Leon (b. Haurowitz).

In 1922 Donalda left the stage to devote her life to teaching, opening a studio in Paris. She returned to Montreal in 1937, where she opened a studio, and in 1942 founded the Opera Guild, the company she directed until 1969. During her relatively short performing career, Donalda was recognized for the purity of her voice and for her musicality, fine diction, and powerful stage presence. She is remembered for the unfailing energy with which she promoted opera in Montreal and encouraged talented young Canadian singers. Donalda also was very active in support of Jewish music in Montreal and the study of music at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

[Joel Greenberg (2nd ed.)]

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