Homer, Louise (1871–1947)

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Homer, Louise (1871–1947)

American contralto. Born Louise Dilworth Beatty in Shadyside, a rural section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 1871; died on May 6, 1947, in Winter Park, Florida; third daughter and fourth of eight children of William Trimble Beatty (a Presbyterian minister) and Sarah Colwell (Fulton) Beatty; studied voice with Fidèle Koenig and acting with Paul Lhérie; married Sidney Homer (a composer), in 1895; children: six, including daughter Louise Homer Stires (1896–1970, who was also an operatic soprano).

Made debut at Vichy in Donizetti's La Favorita (June 15, 1898); debuted at Covent Garden (1899); made Metropolitan Opera debut as Amneris in Aïda on tour in San Francisco (1900); appeared as a star at the Met for 20 years; gave last performance at the Metropolitan (1929).

One of the Metropolitan Opera's greatest stars, Louise Homer appeared onstage there for 20 years. She was born in Shadyside, a rural section of Pittsburgh, in 1871, the third daughter and fourth of eight children of William Trimble Beatty, a Presbyterian minister, and Sarah Fulton Beatty . Louise studied music in Philadelphia and at the New England Conservatory before marrying her teacher, composer Sidney Homer, in 1895. In 1898, she continued her studies in Paris by taking voice lessons with Fidèle Koenig and acting lessons with Paul Lhérie. Her operatic debut was in Vichy in 1898. She sang at Covent Garden and the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels before returning to the United States and a debut at the Met in 1900. Although first limited to Italian and Frenchopera, Homer quickly branched out, assuming the leading Wagnerian contraltoand mezzo-sopranoroles. During hertenure, she participated in many historic performances, including the debuts of tenor Enrico Caruso and conductor Arturo Toscanini. When Toscanini revived Gluck's Orpheus in 1909, Homer sang the title role. After resigning from the Met in 1919, she appeared with the Chicago Grand Opera, and the San Francisco and Los Angeles operas, before returning to New York for a last performance in 1929. Homer made many recordings with Caruso, Martinelli, and Gigli, among others. A performer of the highest integrity and ability, she was an American star whose career was extremely successful. The composer Samuel Barber was her nephew.

suggested reading:

Homer, A. Louise Homer and the Golden Age of Opera. New York, 1974.

Homer, Sidney. My Wife and I.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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