Anna Fitziu

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Anna Fitziu
Anna Fitziu on January 4, 1916 with her dog.jpg
Anna Fitziu on January 4, 1916
Born Anna Powell
(1887-04-01)April 1, 1887
Huntington, West Virginia
Died April 20, 1967(1967-04-20) (aged 80)
Hollywood, California

Anna Fitziu (April 1, 1887 – April 20, 1967) was an American soprano who had a prolific international opera career during the early part of the 20th century.[1] Her signature roles included Fiora in L'amore dei tre re, Mimi in La Boheme, Nedda in Pagliacci, and the title roles in Isabeau, Madama Butterfly, and Tosca. After her singing career ended, she embarked on a second career as a voice teacher. Among her notable pupils was opera singer Shirley Verrett.

Early life and career[edit]

"Anna Fitzhugh" in The Wizard (1903)

She was born as Anna Powell in Huntington, West Virginia on April 1, 1887. Fitziu began her career as a chorus girl and concert soloist in New York City in 1902. At this point in her career she worked under the name "Anna Fitzhugh", taking the last name from an old Virginia family (a member of which included Continental Congress delegate William Fitzhugh) that she was related to. She went to Chicago in early 1903 to portray a number of smaller roles in the musical comedy The Wizard. She remained in Chigago through 1904 appearing in leading roles in operettas and musical comedies like Baroness Fiddlesticks and Sergeant Brue. From 1905 to 1906, she performed on the American vaudeville circuit.[2]

Opera career[edit]

In 1906 Fitziu went to Paris where she studied singing with William Thorn for several years. She adopted the stage name "Anna Fitziu" when she made her first opera appearance in 1910 at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan as Elsa in Richard Wagner's Lohengrin.[1] She remained in Italy for the next five years, performing in leading roles at such opera houses as the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, the Teatro di San Carlo, the Teatro Massimo, and La Fenice. She also made appearances at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.[2]

In 1915 Fitziu was offered a short term contract at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She accepted, making her debut with the company as Rosario in the world premiere of Enrique Granados's Goyescas on January 28, 1916 with Giovanni Martinelli as Fernando, Flora Perini as Pepa, Giuseppe De Luca as Paquiro, and Gaetano Bavagnoli conducting. It was the only role she ever performed at the Met, although she did appear in several Sunday Night Concerts at the house.[3] In 1916 she was committed to the New Orleans Opera.

From 1917-1919, Fitziu was a principal soprano of the Chicago Opera Association. With the company she notably portrayed the title role in the world premiere of Henry Kimball Hadley's Azora, the Daughter of Montezuma on December 26, 1917 and portrayed the title role in the United States premiere of Alfredo Catalani's Loreley in 1919. She later sang with the Chicago Civic Opera from 1922 to 1926. In 1921 and 1926 she toured the United States with the San Carlo Opera Company.[2] On November 6, 1924 she sang Mimì in La bohème for the very first performance presented by the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company.[4] She also appeared in operas at the Ravinia Festival in the early 1920s and appeared at the Havana Opera in 1924 as Desdemona in Otello with Giovanni Martinelli in the title role.[1]

Work as a voice teacher and later life[edit]

In 1927 Fitziu retired from the stage after suffering a nervous breakdown. She turned to writing for a time and was able to publish some works of short fiction. She took up teaching singing privately in New York City in 1929.[5] She continued to teach singing for the rest of her life, first in Chicago and then in Los Angeles. Among her notable pupils was Shirley Verrett.[6]

She died on April 22, 1967 in Hollywood, California, at the age of 80, after falling down a staircase.[1]

Personal life[edit]

She was engaged to Andrés de Segurola in 1920, but they never married.[7] She then married Dr. John J. Harty, who pre-deceased her.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Anna Fitziu, 80, Opera Soprano Early in Century, Dies on Coast". New York Times. April 22, 1967. Retrieved 2013-12-12. "Anna Fitziu, a soprano who starred in opera productions here and abroad in the first two decades of the century, was found dead last night at her home here. The police said that Miss Fitziu, who was 80 years old, had apparently fallen down a staircase. ..." 
  2. ^ a b c Fitziu, Anna biography at operissimo.com (in German)
  3. ^ "Metropolitan Opera House: January 28, 1916". Metropolitan Opera House. January 28, 1916. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  4. ^ New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: Folder: Philadelphia Civic Opera Company
  5. ^ "Once Opera Star, Teaches Voice Free. Anna Fitziu, Forced to Quit the Metropolitan After a Breakdown, Aids Girls.". New York Times. January 25, 1929. "Anna Fitziu, former Metropolitan Opera star, who for two years has been recovering from a nervous breakdown, is now devoting her time to teaching voice to ..." 
  6. ^ Pg 667 - Smith, Jessie Carney. Notable Black American women, Volume 2 (2003 ed.). Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG. ISBN 0-8103-9177-5. - Total pages: 1334
  7. ^ "Opera Stars To Marry. Miss Anna Fitziu and Andreas de Segurola Announce Engagement.". New York Times. November 22, 1920. Retrieved 2013-12-12. "Anna Fitziu, grand opera star, Andreas de Segurola, for many years, one of the leading artists of the Metropolitan Opera Company, announced their engagement ..."