November 28, 1904
Titusville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||September 16, 1997 (aged 92)
Bradenton, Florida, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||George Poselle (19?? - 19??)
Walter Dellera (19?? - 19??)
She was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania on November 28, 1904 and raised in Akron, Ohio, where she studied voice performed in high school operatic productions. She attended the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia on scholarship. She sang with the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company and formed a four singer group called "The Mississippi Misses", traveling "6,000 miles in 12 weeks giving concerts in 87 towns".
Her professional success accelerated in Philadelphia leading to a move to New York City with her husband, flautist George Poselle. Her career in radio began in 1933 with a performance with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Philip James. The broadcast was only local to New Jersey. She would later perform on the radio with bandleaders Paul Whiteman and Rudy Vallee also. She was selected as Most Important New Air Personality of 1934".
Her radio broadcasts attracted the attention of the Metropolitan Opera and her debut there was in John Laurence Seymour's one-act opera In the Pasha's Garden. Her husband also found employment at the Met. She sang lead soprano with the Metropolitan Opera from 1935 to 1941. Some of her best known roles while at the Met include Desdemona (Othello) and Marguerite (Faust). The Faust recording is still in print, as is her recording of Porgy and Bess; she was the first soprano to record in that role, and the extant recording of her was supervised by Gershwin himself.
Jepson's attempt to move into Hollywood was unsuccessful, although it did expose her to wider audiences. Her only film role was 1938's unsuccessful The Goldwyn Follies, in which she sang the "Brindisi" from Verdi's La Traviata, Enrico Toselli's "La Serenata", the Gershwins' "Love Walked In", and "Sempre Libera". Paramount offered her further work, but as filmed opera never proved successful, the deal never came to fruition.
Jepson and George Poselle were divorced and she married Walter Dellera, son of Ricardo Dellera, a conductor and voice coach for the Metropolitan Opera. Jepson then became a resident of Closter, New Jersey, where she gave music lessons at a studio in her home. She and Walter had one son, Ricardo (Rick) Dellera who died in 2006.
In later life, Jepson attended Seton Hall University and acquired a degree in speech therapy. She worked for the school district in Monmouth County, New Jersey as a speech therapist for children. When she retired she and Walter Dellera moved to Bradenton, Florida where she was very active with the Bradenton Opera Guild.
She died in Bradenton, Florida on September 16, 1997, aged 92.
- Helen Jepson (American singer) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- Obituary: Helen Jepson
- "Digging up the Pasha's Garden" by Glen Nelson, Mormon Artists Group
- Kozinn, Allan. "Helen Jepson, 92, a Soprano At the Met in the 30's and 40's", The New York Times, September 19, 1997. Accessed January 8, 2008. "She was the first soprano to record the female lead in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and she sang popular songs with Paul Whiteman, the band leader, on his radio show."
- Gershwin Plays Gershwin - Rhapsody In Blue, Etc / Whiteman | ArkivMusic
- Staff. "Helen Jepson Chosen Chairman of Music Foundation Auxiliary", Raritan Township and Fords Beacon, July 20, 1950, p. 3. Accessed December 19, 2013. "Miss Jepson lives in Closter, Bergen County, and has been a resident of the state for a number of years.... Besides lecturing at Bergen Junior College, she conducts studios both in New York and on the grounds of her Closter home where she teaches New Jersey pupils."
- Interview with Helen Jepson by Bruce Duffie, published in the Massenet Newsletter in July, 1986